8 April 2019
Greater Global Standardisation Vital for Mainland Jewellery Sector
Speaking at the HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, Yang Lixin, Director of the Standardisation Office of China's National Gemstone Testing Centre, called on industry players to work more closely together on a global basis.
Jewellery industry standardisation across mainland China and the wider world, as well as the integration of regional jewellery cultures, were just two of the issues that came to the fore during A Dialogue on Global Jewellery Industry and Standardisation – Openness and Integration for Mutual Success, one of the most well-attended panel discussions at this year's HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show. Much of the interest centred around the fact that the adoption of unified standards is likely to have a major impact on the long-term development of China's jewellery market.
Among the panel's headline speakers was Yang Lixin, Director of the National Gemstone Testing Centre (NGTC). As part of his presentation, he provided an update on the current prevailing standards within China's jewellery industry, industry-wide requirements formulated by the China National Standardisation Technical Committee of Gems & Jewellery (TC298) of the Standardisation Administration of China.
To date, he said, 24 mandatory national standards have been adopted across a number of headings, including: Gems: Nomenclature, Gems: Testing and Diamond Grading. These standards were formulated by a 45-member expert group made up of managers and quality-control specialists from a variety of jewellery-related businesses, as well as professionals from research institutions and universities. These unified standards are now in use in 493 jewellery laboratories across China.
Explaining the importance of this, Yang said: "Information sharing among industry peers with regard to the global trends in the jewellery trade and the consumer markets, as well as the use of uniform terminology, test methods, brands and other areas all help provide consumers with consistent information, minimising any apprehension they may have when it comes to investing in expensive jewellery."
Highlighting the differences between China's jewellery culture and that of the West, Yang maintained that while markets in Europe and the US are very jewel-centric, across the mainland jade tends to predominate. Such cultural differences aside, though, he noted that China occupies a unique space in the international jewellery sector, given that it is both a huge consumer market – one worth about US$100 billion – and a vital processing hub for the global jewellery manufacturing industry.
Providing a potted history of the rapid development of the mainland jewellery industry in recent years, Yang reminded attendees that the Shanghai Diamond Exchange and the Shanghai Gold Exchange had only been founded comparatively recently – in 2000 and 2002, respectively. More recently, the Ministry of Finance cut import tariffs on jewellery in 2018 and the Shanghai Gems and Jade Exchange was officially upgraded to national status and renamed the China Gems and Jade Exchange in December of the same year.
Putting all these developments into context, Yang said: "The government is continuously working on the convergence of Chinese and global standards. In line with that, we are striving to facilitate exchange and interaction, openness and inclusiveness, connectivity and the sharing of achievements across different industry sectors and in different regions within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative."
While acknowledging the sector was not without challenges, Yang confirmed his belief that a way forward would be found, saying: "Among the problems we face are trade barriers, differences in laboratory standards and nomenclature, loopholes in professional ethics and failures to protect local environments from the consequences of mining.
"The Asia Pacific region, though, is home to a comprehensive jewellery supply chain. With that in mind, we should act together to tackle such challenge via a number of initiatives, including higher levels of international technology exchanges, enhanced information sharing with regard to global jewellery trade and consumption, and the establishment of uniform branding rules as a means of gradually unifying the prevailing international jewellery industry standards."
● As a sign of the goodwill within the region with regard to establishing universally-observed standards, four of Asia Pacific's leading jewellery bodies – the National Gemstone Testing Centre, the Gem and Jewellery Institute of Thailand (GIT), the Gemmological Institute of India (GII) and the China Gems & Jade Exchange (CGE) – signed up as founder members of the Asia-Pacific Gemstone and Technology Standardisation Alliance (AGA) during the four-day jewellery expo.
The 2019 HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show took place from 28 February-3 March at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Susie Hu, Special Correspondent, Hong Kong