Singapore’s spectacular skyline at night. (Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash.com)
As they have for many years already, gemstone and jewelry buyers headed for Asia this September for a show orchestrated by Informa Markets. But their destination was not Hong Kong this time, but rather Singapore, which hosted Jewellery & Gem World for the first time, but was still billed as the biggest B2B jewellery sourcing destination of the year in her region.
The show kicked off on September 27, with close to 1,000 exhibitors from more than countries and regions.
“After nearly three years of a pandemic-induced break, JGW is back to provide international buyers a sourcing experience like never before. It is renewing its position as the ultimate launchpad for the global jewellery industry, the marketplace where powerful connections are made, and the destination where trends that will shape demand in the coming seasons are revealed,” said David Bondi, Senior Vice President of Informa Markets in Asia.
“There is no substitute for the camaraderie that you get from shared experiences on the show floor,” said Celine Lau, Director of Jewellery Fairs at Informa Markets Jewellery. “In spite of what we have all been through in the last few years, we, as a community, have plenty of reasons to be upbeat and hopeful.
This year the show is spread across 35,000 square meters of gross exhibit space. It is segmented into more than 20 show floor destinations, including pavilions under the banners of the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC), Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), India, the Israel Diamond Institute, Italy, Japan, Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and the United States.
SINGAPORE’S EARLIER RETURN TO NORMALITY
It the first time since its launch nearly four decades ago that the show being held outside of Hong Kong. Singapore’s decision to open up its borders for quarantine-free travel and its capacity to securely and efficiently host large-scale events has made it the top alternative venue events that ordinarily would have been held in Hong Kong.
Singapore lifted it pre-departure/on-arrival testing and quarantine requirements for all fully vaccinated visitors in April. Hong Kong, in contrast, only recently announced it was putting an end to mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals, although other restrictions remain.
Only fully vaccinated visitors are permitted to enter and/or remain at the Singapore EXPO to attend JGW Singapore in accordance with government guidelines for large-scale events with more than 500 participants.
The traditional painting of the dragon’s eye ceremony, which opened this year’s Jewellery & Gem World in Singapore.
Face masks are not required in indoor settings, except in healthcare facilities, public transport and on board some flights and ferries.
Exemptions, however, may apply to unvaccinated visitors who meet Singapore’s eligibility requirements.
The Zero-COVID strategy that was employed Hong Kong, as part of which visitors had to quarantine for three week in special hotels, had a devastating on the Asian business capital’s economy and reputation. (Photo courtesy of Cheung Yin.)
A DENTED COSMOPOLITAN IMAGE
The question for many is to what degree Hong Kong will be able to recover has been an extremely challenging three years. COVID was only part of the story. The political crackdown that was imposed by the Chinese central government left many in the business wondering the days of the special status for the city were drawing to a close.
Hong Kong only recently announced that was finally scrapping its requirement that people arriving in the city spend three weeks in quarantine a specially designated hotel, at their own expense. Visitors will still be restricted from frequenting high risk venues, like restaurants, bars and gyms, during their first three days in the city.
The damage to the city’s cosmopolitan image has been substantial. The population of expats has shrunk by several percentage points, while numerous multinational companies have moved headquarters and staff out of the city, often staying in Asia, but in places like Singapore and Seoul.
Enrolment by international students at Hong Kong’s leading universities is down for the for the first time in many years, and IATA has reported that the city has lost its status as a global aviation hub.
But many in the jewelry industry are hedging their bets, believing that Hong Kong’s legendary drive, proximity to China and free market spirit will help it recover most of what what it lost in recent years. This includes Informa Markets, which has insisted ever since they announced the 2022 September jewelry show would take place in Singapore that the move is only temporary.