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3.37-Carat 'Purple Orchid' Diamond To Be Unveiled At Hong Kong Jewelry Show

A fancy intense pinkish purple VS2 diamond will be shown to the public for the first time during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, September 15 – 21. The 3.37-carat gem, named the “Purple Orchid,” has an asking price of $4 million, or nearly $1.2 million per carat.

Leibish & Co., an Israeli firm that owns the diamond, says the gem originated from an unnamed South African mine, one of the very few in the world where purple diamonds can be found. The company, which sells its fancy colored diamonds and jewelry online at www.leibish.com, purchased the diamond as a rough of more than 4 carats and spent four months cutting and polishing the gem.

Leibish Polnauer, president of Leibish & Co., says it is a “once-in-a-lifetime” find. “There is nothing more unique on the market right now than color diamonds, and this incredible purple diamond is more than a cut above the rest. There are very, very few diamonds on the market above 3 carats with purple as the main color, which is what makes this exquisite diamond so rare.”

There isn’t a lot of documentation on how purple diamonds get their color, but it is believed that it is the combination of crystal lattice distortion (which is also involved in the creation of pink diamonds) and high amounts of hydrogen.

Leibish & Co also views this diamond as a fashion-forward statement as it says the color of the diamond is associated with “Radiant Orchid,” the Pantone color of year for 2014.

The jewelry tradeshow is only open to qualified jewelry professionals.

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Typhoon Doesn't Stop the Crowds From Attending The Hong Kong Jewelry Fair

A category 8 typhoon churned off the Hong Kong coast Tuesday bringing strong winds and heavy rain but it did not stop the crowds from attending the 32nd edition of the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. It was the second day of the show but it was the first day for me as my plane made a bumpy landing at Hong Kong International Airport Monday night just before the harsh weather caused significant air delays.

Arriving at the show about an hour after it began Tuesday I was stunned to see that the registration area at the AsiaWorld-Expo facility near the airport was so packed that it was difficult getting through the lobby. Later I returned to the area and it was so crowded that a line of people stretched around a corner and down a hallway. Inside, it was much the same way with crowded booths and significant business being conducted.

The registration area at the AsiaWorld-Expo during the second day of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair
The registration area at the AsiaWorld-Expo during the second day of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair

UBM Asia, which owns and operates the tradeshow, expected more than 52,000 buyers from at least 154 countries to attend (with 78 per cent of those buyers from the Asia-Pacific region). It represents another record for the annual show that posts annual records but those numbers are only up slightly compared with last year. However, after seeing the crowds I think they may have underestimated the number of buyers attending.

This is only the first half of the tradeshow. It is for the jewelry making materials (such as diamonds, colored gems and pearls), jewelry making equipment and for packaging and other supplies. This portion of the show will run till September 19. The main show for finished jewelry starts Wednesday and runs till September 21 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre in the heart of this bustling city.


One of the buyers I saw Tuesday was Steven Lagos, founder of the jewelry brand, Lagos, who says it has become “best show in the world.”

“You used to be able to see all of these little companies in Basel, but it has gotten too exclusive and expensive,” he says. “I always find interesting ideas and suppliers in Hong Kong. It really offers a global perspective into the business.”

Mayuri Vara, owner Vara of London, a relatively new luxury jewelry brand, says she has been coming to the Hong Kong fair for three years to source her materials and to network. Next year, she plans to be an exhibitor. This year, her focus will be colored gemstones, such as rhodolite garnet, pink sapphires, morganite, grey and champagne diamonds.

“The demand of colored gemstones at the fair is set to continue,” she says. “(The show) attracts a great number of influential international buyers and is a gateway to doors into luxury Asian markets. We will be looking forward to exhibiting next year.”

Leibish Polnauer, founder of Leibish & Co, a dealer of fancy colored diamonds to consumers and the trade primarily online (www.leibish.com), brought some of his more special gems with him to exhibit, including a 50-carat yellow diamond and a 3.37-carat pinkish-purple diamond that has an asking price of $4 million. His booth like many at the show was crowded with people milling about and with appointments. When I asked him about business, he shrugged saying “typhoons, whatever, we do most of our business online.”

It is the largest B2B fine jewelry show in the world in terms of the number of exhibitors and the amount of exhibition space. Baselworld – The World Watch and Jewellery Show (primarily a watch show open to the trade and general public) attracts more visitors.


The show began in 1983 in the lobby of a hotel ballroom with 100 exhibitors. From 1997 to 2013 the number of exhibitors increased by more than 142 percent (1,500 to 3,633) and buyers rose nearly 79 percent (29,452 to 52,651). To handle this growth the fair moved to the Hong Kong convention center in 1989 and then in 2006 made the unusual decision to split into two venues. It took three more years to divide the show by jewelry-making materials, equipment and supplies; and finished fine jewelry.

“With the completion of AWE in 2006, UBM Asia already had the plan of product sectorization to make both venues have equal importance,” says Celine Lau, show director for UBM Asia. “However, the trade was not ready for the new arrangement at that time. We allowed the exhibitors three years for preparation before the formal sectorization in 2009. In the meantime, we expanded the fair to AWE by offering the space to exhibitors on the waiting list. We are very proud that the product sectorization proved its success and became a very important reference for the exhibition industry.”

The show now occupies more than 135,000 square meters of exhibition space for nearly 3,700 exhibitors from 51 countries and regions. But, even with two large venues, there is no more space for exhibitors, Lau says.

Even as attendance and the number of exhibitors at the fair seem to be leveling off, the size and scope of this event cannot be underestimated. The fair houses the largest diamond and pearl trading area of any tradeshow in the world, as well as an equally impressive gemstone and coral spaces.

A table full of pearls from just one of the exhibitors in the pearl pavilion.
A table full of pearls from just one of the exhibitors in the pearl pavilion.

“Two of the most impressive aspects of the show are the diamond bourse and the pearl dealers area,” says Etienne Perret, who spent five years at the fair as a buyer and the last three years as an exhibitor for his gem-ceramic jewelry. “I have never seen so many diamonds in one place as in the diamond bourse section of the show,” he says, adding, “You will find hundreds of (freshwater) pearl dealers that bring in tons of pearls. If however your passion is for South Sea pearls both Robert Wan and Nick Paspaley have auctions from their latest harvest.”

He continues, “As an exhibitor, the buyers come from all over the world although there are not many from the USA and Europe. There are buyers from places like New Zealand, and Turkey, and Singapore, and Korea, as well as buyers from Hong Kong and China.”

Fair organizers are quick to point out that Hong Kong’s free trade policy makes it a natural jewelry trading hub. In addition, they say the fair serves as the gateway to the market in Mainland China and the rest of the growing Asian region.

Business is certainly handled here differently at the Hong Kong fair than at other tradeshows. For example, last year, a story circulated of a coral dealer who sold 80 percent of his inventory to other exhibitors before the start of the fair. Also last year, during opening day at the Hong Kong convention center, there were exhibitors and buyers doing business at covered booths after show hours.

However, several exhibitors say the immediate sell is often secondary. That participating in the show has other positives.

Frank & Label, which provides marketing and sales services for independent luxury jewelry designers who want to enter into the China market, for the third consecutive year will provide a large booth for nearly 10 exhibitors from the US, Europe and Japan. Evert deGraeve, Frank & Label China business development director and a jewelry designer in his own right who will exhibit, says the fair provides key contacts for these designers.


“We will invite our Chinese clientele and also new Chinese retailers. We also get international traffic from the Asia rim and other regions. But our focus is China,” he says. “The Chinese retailer does not buy at the show from FAL. Most of the business is done outside the show. We do have some transactions but building the image for FAL and the socializing aspect, to see and be seen is key.”

Edward Faber, co-owner of Aaron Faber Gallery, New York, which specializes in collectible jewelry and watches, and artist-made jewelry, says that qualified collectors also attend the show to buy directly or look at items to purchase at a later date. He says about the people who visit him are collectors.

“A lot of the local professional class, lawyers, accountants, interested in very much broadening their base,” he says. “I think it’s important the US and the east coast is represented at that fair. That’s why were there.”

Renowned high jewelry artist and craftsman, Wallace Chan, has been exhibiting at the fair since the 1980s. He doesn’t need to exhibit anymore but he still does because of the emotional bonds he has with the fair. Last year, he was honored as an “Outstanding Contributor” at the JNA Awards, an event that is held with the show that honors those in the jewelry industry. It started in 2012 and has grown even faster than the tradeshow.

This year Chan will show highlights of his pieces he exhibited at the recently concluded Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris in a multi-media format.

“Many years have passed since my first experience with the show and I have established a special emotion towards it. I exhibit here every year still, taking it as an opportunity to meet some of my long known friends in the field,” he says.

Ewa Rachoń, project director of Amberif, in Gadansk, Poland, the world’s largest amber jewelry fair, helps organize a contingent of Polish jewelry designers each year. This year 17 exhibitors will have its own pavilion under the name, “Amber Treasure of Poland.” She says all of Asia is a growing market for amber material and jewelry and that the Hong Kong show is the best way to meet this market.

“China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea are countries with special attitude for amber,” she says. “It’s valued there for mystic and healing properties. Amber was present in the ancient history and tradition with amazing sculptures, decorative objects, amulets and personal stamps. Amber is treated with attention similar to jade.”