I recently attended the Singapore jewellery show, which was initially supposed to take place in Hong Kong. The travel restrictions to Hong Kong were particularly onerous due to Covid, and hence Singapore was seen as the most viable alternative. Prior to arriving, I truly believed Singapore would now be the new HK for the major jewellery trade shows.
For those who are familiar with Singapore and for those who are not, it’s one of the most vibrant cities in Asia, incredibly easy to navigate (especially for the fact that it’s so small), with minimal language barriers (as English is mainly used), and with many offerings to enjoy.
Catching up with locals at the Singapore show: Rami with Sam from Affinity Jewellers, Sydney and Stelios from Stelios Jewellers, Perth
SG just isn’t HK
I must say, entering the hall at the Airport Expo, it soon became very clear that this was not a show that attracted the same turnout as the Hong Kong show did. I would be surprised if there was 25 percent of the volume of people that we would normally see at the HK show. Unfortunately, the lighting was poor, and the beautiful stands and displays we were accustomed to seeing at HK were missing. If you haven’t seen it yet, the grand ballroom in Hong Kong is one of the most jaw-dropping sights and experiences. Here you are regaled with matching 10ct D IF diamond earrings. In the same display, there is a 50ct pear-shaped pendant and 15ct flawless African emerald encrusted in diamonds where the shoulder stones alone would be bigger than what some jewellers sell on a good day in Oz.
The first thing that I personally found quite astonishing about the Singapore show was the sheer number of lab grown distributors displaying their goods. There must have been no fewer than three to four aisles focused on this alone. Sadly, the show itself lacked atmosphere.
One of the difficulties suppliers experienced in coming to Singapore was a 7.5 percent VAT (GST) on all goods sold at the show. All the goods were on “Carnet”, meaning they could show you the goods, and you could order them, but they would only be sent to you from the country of origin. As most of us know, retailers are used to seeing goods, buying them, and physically taking them home. Doing this would have been very messy and expensive, and most stands wouldn’t do it.
Several major diamond suppliers told me they had their big custom-made display stands stored in Hong Kong and could not justify bringing them to Singapore. They felt that with the Covid restrictions lifted, the show would return to HK. The commercial reality is that the biggest volume of sales was the China market, and so it made sense for them to return to the HK show.
The joy of reconnecting personally
But now that I’ve gotten the problematic aspects out of the way, I would like to share with you why it was such a tremendous show. As always, the ability to meet colleagues from around the world, and in this case, the flip side of it not being a busy show, meant that you could stop and have a conversation rather than just a cursory wave or hello.
The Executive Committee of The Diamond Dealers Club of Australia and individual businesses personally sponsored an evening of drinks which was wonderfully attended (see photo below). It allowed many Young Diamantaires to meet other colleagues and provided an easy entrée, something everybody was so desperate for at an overseas trade show where you generally knew so few people, if any.
I always like to see several Aussies displaying at the show, and needless to say, the Gemlight box stand, with William, Rocky and the rest of the team, was flat out as usual.
It’s interesting to see stands from Japan and Korea that specialise in selling second-hand branded products. We are all familiar with pre-owned watches, but in Japan and Korea, the pre-owned Tiffany, Cartier, Bulgari, Van Cleef, and other high-end jewellery brands have a very vibrant second-hand market. This was something I had only seen in stores in Chinatown in some of the capital cities in Australia.
Being in Singapore during the F1 was incredible, and you struggled to get a table at any restaurant, but the city ran like a well-oiled machine. I hope Singapore gets another chance to make its jewellery show a world event. It’s an amazing city.
Read below for related stories: