Customers are attaching more importance to design when purchasing jewellery in a sluggish global economic environment, according to Jason Luk, chief designer of Hong Kong-based designer brand Jason Luk Co Ltd.
In an interview with JNA, Luk shared his insights on the latest product trends as well as the brand’s market entry strategy in Asia.
“Customers are looking for more affordable jewellery these days due to the weak economy. We’ve therefore been using less expensive materials to produce our jewels and see to it that the value of our products comes more from our design than from the gemstones used,” Luk said.
“For example, we’ve been using Zambian emeralds instead of those from Colombia in order to reduce the price point. We run the full gamut of colours, using a great variety of gemstones for our ornaments to produce the desired effects. We used onyx for a panda piece. Pink and purple tourmalines are also very popular at the moment, especially in mainland China,” he added.
Founded in 2009, Jason Luk focuses on Asian markets including Thailand, Japan and mainland China. The brand produces mostly one-of-a-kind or bespoke jewellery priced at around $10,000, while its parent company Athos (HK) Ltd supplies jewellery pieces to European chain stores.
“Pieces that look voluminous are much sought after. They give buyers the impression of good value for money. Our ruby and sapphire bead earrings, for instance, are moving quite fast. They are especially favoured by our Middle Eastern customers, mostly from Dubai, who want more pronounced jewels to go with their hijab to make a fashion statement,” Luk noted.
According to Luk, a brand should always take the cultural aspect into consideration when exploring a market, as demonstrated by their experience of connecting with Japanese customers.
“Our key achievement last year was entering the Japanese market. The Japanese people are very proud and protective of their culture, and the Japanese market has always been known to be difficult to penetrate for all foreign brands, not just jewellery,” he said.
“I think our insistence on original design and craftsmanship strikes a chord with Japanese customers, who value these qualities. And once you win their approval, they become your long-term customers, which is one of the reasons we’re so drawn to the Japanese market,” he explained.
“We also took the Japanese culture into account in our designs. For instance, we made pieces featuring the iconic tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog), which were well received by customers. We want to strengthen our presence in Japan this year, with collections of more dainty pieces,” he added.
Luk sees a bright future for designer jewellery. “Since the global economy has slowed down in recent years, jewellery buyers are paying more attention to design and more respect to designers. As a designer, I’m glad to see this happen. This also has to do with the trend towards personalised items, both in jewellery and in fashion.”
Jewellery habits differ from country to country, Luk noted. “The jewellery culture in Hong Kong is not as strong as in other Asian countries. In Thailand, it’s almost de rigueur for women to adorn themselves with jewels, which aren’t necessarily luxurious. Jewellery pieces for them are simply everyday items they can’t do without. It’s also rare in Hong Kong to see a man wearing jewellery other than a wedding ring. In this aspect, Hong Kong’s male consumers lag behind their counterparts in Southeast Asia and mainland China.”
Luk sees a rising demand for designer products in mainland China. “Mainland Chinese customers have become more and more design-conscious. They are aware that developed countries like Japan and Korea attach great importance to design. With the Chinese economy continuing to grow, they know that good design is something they deserve too.”