Primer on Jewelry in Hong Kong

Posted: July 9, 2014 in expensive
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Hong Kong is a haven for most things and jewelry is another thing available for purchase.  High end watches and most items carrying a brand name can be found cheaper solely based on the lack of sales tax here. Another thing is the ability to bargain, a high end watch store will generally knock off 20% without blinking an eye so long as you are serious about the purchase. Hong Kong is a weird market as it pertains to high end timepieces. They sell more high end timepieces in HK than in all of North America. They love their bright shiny things dangling off their wrists.

In my quest to fill orders for engagement rings and other shiny things, most of  the stores that cater to deals will found off ground level.  For watch stores, you want to stay away from the purveyors located in the big malls catering to tourists.  They (Chow Tai Fook and Luk Fook stores)  don’t want nor need your business as the China tourists will pay MSRP along with purchase a few to give as gifts back home.  You need to find authorize dealers with multiple store locations spread all over the city and visit the locations off the beaten path.  I take friends to Oriental Watch Company  (www.orientalwatch.com).  This ensures the watch you buy is authentic.  Another avenue for watches is via the second hand market, there are many stores devoted to the buy, sell and trade of used watches.  One of the more popular stores I see is Ken Watches (www.kenwatches.com).

One thing is for certain, don’t buy luxury items in China.  There’s a reason all the Chinese buy their luxury items abroad.  Friends will confirm various instances of being sold fake items at legitimate corporate stores. Example: the purchase of a well known handbag at a corporate store in China only to have the metal clasp break, on inspection the metal clasp was made out of plastic.  Corporate store refuses to refund the purchase until you make a big scene and drive away their customers.  Luxury items are also cheaper outside of China.  China has a luxury tax so luxury items are priced a higher and most luxury brands before to one of two holding companies which can afford to incur losses for the sake of brand image.

If you are on the hunt for handbags and value a discount, the best place to shop would be Yes Lady.  Why Yes Lady?  They are first and only company set up to provide handbag loans to HK’s rich and famous.   WSJ article on Yes Lady’s handbag backed loans .  It’s a high end pawn shop catering solely to bags, they do their own due diligence to which I am sure they go over everything with a fine tooth comb.  On the topic of loans, another avenue to purchase jewelry would be pawn shops.  The pawn shops in HK are heavily regulated so they can only provide loans on a few items vs any and all items in North America.  They will have a collection of expensive watches and jewelry which were met with unfortunate circumstances.

HK’s Yau Ma Tei district has a outdoor market devoted to all things jade.  All the vendors provide the same type of low quality jade so prepare to negotiate hard to drive a bargain.  The stores around the jade market also carry precious gemstones.  Gemstones are a better store of wealth than diamonds.

If one is serious on the purchase of diamonds, nothing will beat the pricing of going direct to Africa. Trade sanctions in diamond producing African nations cripple the country, tourism is one of their main source for revenue. Zimbabwe is the perfect example, diamonds are 50% off and come with all the papers. They sell for 50% off because of sanctions imposed on them so the only market for their wares is via tourists. Tourists need not worry about falling prey to scams as the government sells to you directly in the showrooms and warehouses by the airport.

uncut diamonds

Ivory is a similar contraband substance. It’s everywhere in Africa but a highly controlled in HK.  Buddhism practitioners love it.  Be careful buying ivory as there are many versions of fake ivory and if its a banned substance in your country, airport customs will have a field day with you.  There are many stores along Queens Road in Central and Sheung Wan that sell ivory ranging from chopsticks to giant carved tusks.  The ivory stores are all dingy multiple generation family run stores.  The products will look old as there is suppose to be a world wide ban on ivory since the 1980s so their products and inventory cannot go through replenishment.

Hong Kong is a safe place to shop for high value items as most retailers care about brand reputation.  Hong Kong has a reputation of being unscrupulous when it comes to making a buck but its nowhere near as bad as China.  The retailers have morals here.  If you ask your hotel concierge for advice on where to shop, they will send you to Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium.  Stay far away from this place as it’s a tourist trap and the unscrupulous dealers inside will send you from one end to the other so they can all take a bit of your flesh.  Garbage products at tourist trap prices.

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