Melissa Pearce for ADORE Magazine


''Young Leader of the Year (age 30 or below) was awarded to Chris Benham (from New Zealand’s The Inspired Collection) who made a promising impression at the 2011 show and has been forging a relationship with China’s bridal jewellery chain Hiersun.'

The Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair marked its 30th anniversary with more exhibitors than ever coming from as many as 48 countries. The Thai Pavilion was a formidable zone and again, the biggest international player with 383 companies, more than double last year’s turnout, demonstrating the country’s increasing manufacturing might on the global stage. The inaugural Poland Pavilion with 17 Polish exhibitors brought the total number of group pavilions to 22.


It was the first year of two new award initiatives. The JNA Awards, spearheaded by Jewellery News Asia, celebrates excellence and achievement in the industry across 10 categories, in a glittering night at The Ritz-Carlton. Chow Tai Fook, the world’s largest jewellery retailer by market value, with more than 1,600 points of sale in Greater China, Singapore and Malaysia, took Brand of the Year, while Retailer of the Year was awarded to Luk Fook Holdings (International). The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Nicky Oppenheimer for his outstanding contribution to the diamond industry in more than 44 years. The accolade marks the fourth industry tribute this year to the 67-year-old chairman of De Beers. Young Leader of the Year (age 30 or below) was awarded to Chris Benham (from New Zealand’s The Inspired Collection) who made a promising impression at the 2011 show and has been forging a relationship with China’s bridal jewellery chain Hiersun.

The IU Awards International Gem Cutting and Jewellery Design Competition, which finalised its judging in the middle of the year, formally awarded its prizes at the welcome reception. The event is the first global competition that pays attention to thecreative talents of the coloured gemstones segment.

Hong Kong’s Ip Suen Hang was declared champion among 19 finalists in the Jewellery Design Competition with the Dragon Awakening necklace, and Russia’s Natalia Samorukova trumped 25 finalists in the Gem-Cutting Competition with her Chrysanthemum. In both competition segments, the artists were evaluated according to aesthetics craftsmanship, saleability, wearability, creativity and originality.


One of the highlights of the fair was a collaborative piece by Rio Tinto and Chow Tai Fook that showed a landmark Argyle pink diamond and rare imperial jade necklace valued at US$5.5 million. The design was a romantic union between East and West that combined more than 43cts of Argyle pink diamonds on two encrusted Hong Kong camellias with jade beads. Camellia hongkongensis was discovered in Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island in 1849. This small evergreen tree blooms from December to February each year, and is unique because it is the only red flowering plant of the camellia species. This creation was a suitably elegant nod to history as it featured traditional and heirloom jadeite design motifs.

Sharply contrasting with traditional Asian jewellery was an extreme modern glamour that fuses motifs from traditional ethnic wear and space-age minimalism. The latter’s monochrome preferences and urban midnight colourscapes were used to a cool and dramatic effect. Following the palette of the Autumn/Winter 2012 catwalk shows, deep blues, especially when combined with black, were popular tones expressed by the choice of sapphires, tanzaniteaquamarine and topaz.

Green tourmaline is also of rising interest to Chinese customers. At one of the industry advisory board panel press conferences, Anthony Mong, vice president of the Hong Kong Gemstone Manufacturers Association, noted a significant improvement in China’s coloured gemstone market. Mong revealed 20 percent growth in the market and expects this trend to continue in the coming years.

Pearls continue to be popular with the bustling Pearl Pavilion awashed with the finest selection of South Sea, Tahitian, Akoya and freshwater pearls, from sources such as mainland Tahiti, China, Japan, the Philippines. They were mixed with everything from silver Indian beads to black diamonds.


Palladium was explored by a number of Hong Kong jewellers, including Unicorn Jewelry Design. The metal offers superb stone security because of its hardness, making it ideal for holding large gemstones, while also allowing maximum illumination. Added appeals comprise durability, lustre and hypoallergenic purity on par with its superior forerunner, platinum. While platinum and palladium come from the same group of metals and share many physical properties, their difference in price point curtails an even playing ground.

That said, the traditional price gap between the two is diminishing; while platinum once sold for four times the price of palladium, it is now twice the price. But perhaps the metal’s main enticements are its lightness (platinum is much denser, with palladium about half its weight) that makes it very comfortable to wear; and its malleability in the hands of designers who wish to pursue intricate pieces. It can be drawn into fine threads and beaten into a leaf form finer than a strand of silk. Due to its scarcity, industry insiders predict an increasing demand of palladium in the wedding ring market. 

View The Inspired Collection's Platinum Rings and Palladium Rings.