Roundup: Sanguine jewelry industry players seek to boost business by technology in Hong Kong

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HONG KONG, March 5 (Xinhua) -- A record number of buyers were attracted to two international jewelry shows that ended recently in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, with industry players showing optimism about the outlook and more are seeking to capitalize on technology to boost business.

The sixth Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show and the 36th Hong Kong International Jewelry Show, both organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), featured a total of more than 4,600 exhibitors and attracted a record number of over 90,000 buyers from over 140 countries and regions, up 4 percent over the previous year.

The number of buyers at the two shows reached a record high, with a satisfactory growth in attendance from emerging markets such as the Chinese mainland, India and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries including the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, according to HKTDC.

The twin-show format provides exhibitors and buyers with a highly effective platform to connect with potential business partners.

Benjamin Chau, deputy executive director of the HKTDC, said the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area unveiled last month is set to bolster Hong Kong's position as an international exhibition and sourcing hub.

During the shows, the HKTDC interviewed 1,347 exhibitors and buyers on the industry's outlook. In terms of overall sales, 61 percent of respondents said they expected to see no change this year, with 33 percent expecting sales to increase and only 6 percent anticipating a sales decline. This suggests that the jewelry industry is generally optimistic about the business outlook, despite the global uncertainties.

"A growing diversity of designs and materials was demonstrated in the exhibits at this year's shows, which have attracted the attention of global buyers," Chau said, adding that jewelers have been actively enhancing their design and R&D capabilities in recent years amid uncertain global economy.

At a forum at the Hong Kong International Jewelry Show, industry players discussed how new technology is changing the jewelry industry, including design, manufacturing, marketing and retail, and the trends for the next decade.

The rise of computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) has brought about a revolutionary transformation of the jewelry industry, according to Thomas Ng, member of the International Association of Jewelry Merchandize Planning Professionals and representative of French software developer 3DESIGN.

In response to the challenges faced by the jewelry industry, including high cost, small quantities and short lead times in the production process, CAD/CAM software can improve efficiency and reduce costs, Ng said, adding that it allows companies to complete a design in one hour instead of 10 days and release it immediately around the world.

At the manufacturing level, the advanced development of 3D printing in the jewelry industry has largely benefited jewelers in the areas of prototype-making and mass production, Robin Wang, co-founder of Jiangsu Totus Technology Co Ltd, said.

He said new printing technologies have largely shortened the manufacturing cycle, allowing higher precision and resulting in faster delivery times.

Andrew Loo, founder of La Salle de Fabrication, said his manufacturing company had developed a customized app, which allows consumers to design their own affordable and unique jewelry. He said they can provide the finished product to clients within 10 days of receiving a design.

Li Sha, operational director at Tencent Smart Retail, explained how Tencent uses artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to help individual shops and retail chains in the mainland develop smart retailing, with a range of tools including WeChat payment, QR code scanning and facial recognition technology.

Tencent smart retail can help stores in the mainland track customer behavior while they are in the store, which, according to Li, provides a database that allows stores to improve the accuracy and efficiency of their retail operation. Enditem

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