Hong Kong is, without a doubt, an amazing city. It’s filled with diversity—in people, food, architecture, fashion and night life. And most fascinating from my viewpoint—it’s filled with pearls.
Hong Kong brims with offices where pearl deals are made throughout the year. Wholesalers and large retailers come from around the world to fill their inventory with every pearl type and quality. But the epicenter of Hong Kong pearl activity is the world-class show sponsored by UBM Asia—the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. It is so large that it is split between two venues, AsiaWorld-Expo and the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.
These venues are both staggeringly large, so visiting the shows and enjoying Hong Kong can require enormous stamina. It's potentially exhausting, but also incredibly stimulating and should be on every jewelry industry person's bucket list.
The venue logistics are superbly managed with no shortage of easily understood signs and helpful convention hosts. There were entrance lines, but they generally moved quickly. Considering that 57,600 people attended last September when I did, the services were excellent.
Getting to AsiaWorld Expo by the AsiaWorld Expo/Airport Express train was a dream of convenience, right down to free Wi-Fi. The fact that the train originates at the airport made the trip to the hotel in Kowloon very easy. The train continues all the way into downtown Hong Kong, making it easy to meet friends for drinks after the show. Generally, all of the public transit is great. You won't want to miss a chance to take the ferry and see the harbor or go farther afield and take a day excursion to Macau by the turbojet ferry.
These "Edison" cultured freshwater pearls in formerly unheard-of deep purple colors make the "chore" of browsing for pearls a pleasure.
The variety of colors and surface qualities on display made for interesting hunting. As I accompanied Kevin Canning, I saw some unusual large blue South Sea baroque cultured pearls. These pearls had much higher luster and translucency than I have seen in the past.
Radiant blue South Sea baroque pearls.
To get an idea of how many pearls are ready to go, here are some sacks of nucleated freshwater pearls, including ripple baroques and fireballs. These were just a tiny fraction of the inventory at one vendor.
It is best to visit the show with a plan, because time passes quickly whenever you stop to evaluate and choose pearls. Go through the showroom first to get an idea of your choices. This will help you narrow down the vendors you want to pinpoint for purchases.
Written by and Photos by Blaire Beavers, Managing Editor of Pearl-Guide News.