Designer's Desk with Sarah Bennett - The Hong Kong Gem Show

| 4 min read

It’s that time of year again – one of the highlights of my calendar – the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair. Steve and I and our team always go and soak up the local culture, the hustle and bustle of the show itself and most importantly, we go to source parcels of extraordinary gems to set into beautiful Gemporia designs.

Hong Kong hosts three international gem shows a year, in March, June and September. The September show is the most popular and is one of the largest gatherings of the gem trade in the world. The halls cover an area around the size of twenty football pitches, with thousands of exhibitors. There’s never enough time to see everything, so we have a tried and tested approach to make sure we cover as much as we can.

“I’m drawn to bold colours and unusual textures, whereas Steve is more awed by the unusual smaller gems due to their rarity.”

Steve and I tend to split off from the rest of our team and scour the halls for new gemstones and new sources. I’m drawn to bold colours and unusual textures, whereas Steve is more awed by the unusual smaller gems due to their rarity.

I’ll obviously have to work with the gems once we’ve bought them, so I tend to be the more practical and realistic one. I’ll look very closely at the colour matching of pieces and how much we’ll be able to use.

While we’re securing deals, I’ll immediately start thinking about designs. The design process differs a little if we can only secure a very small parcel. This means I’ll be thinking in terms of one-off Lorique designs, or small runs of Tomas Rae pieces. Similarly, if the stones are small, I’ll be thinking in terms of cluster rings. This will have a bearing on what price we’ll try to get the parcels for as well.

In the meantime, I’ll send my Indian buying team around the show with lists of gems I’d like them to find. They go to our regular suppliers and secure deals on gemstones we’ve bought before which have been popular. I give them instructions on how much we’re after and how much we’re willing to spend.

They all drive a hard bargain and have a great eye for the little details which are so important – saturation, clarity and opacity, for example. Tiny details make a huge difference to us, as we only want to bring our customers the very best quality.

As you can imagine, I spend a lot of the show talking to my team on the phone and scurrying off to give my final approval to deals they’ve secured. I should take a pedometer with me one year to see how many miles Steve and I cover walking back and forth in the huge halls!

Finally, one of my favourite parts of these shows is ogling multi-million dollar gems and sometimes being permitted to try them on. This year’s highlights included a million dollar five carat Burmese Ruby, as well as being allowed to try on a $5 million Zambian Emerald necklace. The coolness and weight of those gems against my neck is something I won’t forget in a hurry!

“The coolness and weight of those gems against my neck is something I won’t forget in a hurry!”

Places to Visit in Hong Kong

The Peak

This is the highest point on Hong Kong Island, which means that The Peak offers the most spectacular panoramic cityscape view. The Peak Tower also offers an array of shops and restaurants. Riding The Peak tram is the quickest and most scenic way to arrive at The Peak.

Ladies' Market

The Ladies' Market on Tung Choi provides a one kilometre stretch of stalls of bargain clothing. Despite its name, it's not only for the ladies. You will find a wide variety of men's clothing as well as electronic gadgets and toys.

10,000 Buddhas Monastery

Built in the 1950s, this quirky temple contains over ten thousand Buddhas. You will be accompanied by dozens of life-sized golden Buddha statues on the long climb up the mountain, which leads to the temple containing an array of miniature statues!

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