You’ll be smitten at first, and then you’ll be surprised at how quickly the fascination with jewellery and gems turns into a passionate love affair. According to Hoey Ho, Founder and Managing Director of Kahn High Jewellery, the sparkly baubles are more than just accessories – they’re the ultimate symbol of love.
Despite the ongoing politically-driven protests that have caused the city to uncharacteristically slow down, Hong Kong still holds its place as a serious jewellery hub that not only hosts some of the most important events and trade shows, it is also the base of some of the most sought-after local and international jewellery brands. And when it comes to jewellery auctions, Hong Kong also enjoys the distinction of being the world’s second largest market, surpassing New York, according to a 2017 South China Morning Post article.
In order to understand the deep passion Hong Kong locals have for jewellery and gemstones, we spoke to Hoey Ho, Founder and Managing Director, Kahn High Jewellery. Through this conversation, we managed to uncover how her love affair for all things shiny came to be. At the same time, we also gained a deeper understanding of how an independent brand like hers managed to win over the hearts of women in Hong Kong (and beyond) – ranging from those in their 20s all the way to grand dames in their 70s.
Hoey Ho, Founder and Managing Director, Kahn High Jewellery
What was your earliest memory of falling in love with jewellery?
Before leaving to study in Australia, my grandmother passed me a diamond pendant when I turned 18. She told me that it was a gift from my grandfather on one of her birthdays. From that day, I realised that jewellery was more than just an accessory. For me, jewellery became a symbol of showing love to those closest to you. At the same time, you could also pass it on to the next generation as an heirloom piece that carries a unique history.
Can you tell us about a certain event in your life that led you to pursue a career in jewellery?
After graduation, I worked for fine jewellery companies for a few years. During my time spent there, I learned how to do international business. At the same time, I also took some design courses, which helped to nurture my creativity, as well as a diamond course to learn about grading and to hone expertise in identifying stones.
There was also a fateful time during a reunion with a friend from university, which resulted in me designing and creating wedding jewellery for the daughter of an Australian tycoon. They wanted magnificent pieces according to the daughter’s expectations. From that day, I realised I wanted to run my own jewellery business.
As someone closely involved in all aspects of the business – from sourcing stones to meeting clients – what have you learned about the whole process? At the end of the day, what is it that makes people fall in love with jewellery?
I think this business taught me the importance of cultivating relationships. I need to have a good relationship with my supplier and as a result, they will reserve the best stones for me.
I also need to have a good relationship with my customers so that they will remember the Kahn brand when they need to buy jewellery. When my customers know that I am involved in every step of the process, I am sure that they will be confident with my taste and the final product.
Earrings: 11.8 and 12.6 carats of green Colombian emeralds and 16.7 carats of diamonds on 18K gold
Are you drawn to a particular kind of gemstone? As a jeweller, what do you look for?
I love emeralds! The emerald is a stone that I never get bored to work and design with. Its characteristic inclusions and fissures are described as a jardin, giving the stone a dose of French romance. On a personal level, each piece of emerald I encounter seems like they speak and resonate with me.
When I design jewellery pieces, I always design it based on the stone. I will closely look at the shape of the stone and its colour, and think of how I can achieve a jewellery design that best expresses its lustre, colour, and cut.
What are the stones and designs you are focusing more on this year? What are the trends worth investing in?
As I mentioned, I love emeralds so I am always on the hunt for the best ones. Then there are sapphires – especially pink sapphires with vivid pink hues. This year, I am expecting that coloured stones will still be hot in the market, but it might be a bit of a challenge to find the best of the best. Not to worry though, because we are launching some exceptional pieces for the upcoming important jewellery shows and events this year.
Ring: 3.5 carats of purplish pink Mozambique sapphire and 2.8 carats of diamonds on 18K gold
Bracelets: 14 carats of white diamonds on 18K gold
Would you say the needs and wants of your clients today have evolved since you started?
Our customers are sophisticated and well travelled, so when we present our jewellery designs, they have to meet the same standards that the international brands offer. Personalisation is also of very high importance for them, ensuring that they have a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
There has been a mindset that high jewellery is for older clients, while younger customers are leaning towards fashion jewellery or less intricate pieces. How do you attract a younger clientele to discover and fall in love with the beauty of Kahn jewellery?
Yes, Kahn’s younger customers lean towards more “fashion” pieces for daily wear, but the good thing is, most of them understand high jewellery pieces as investments that can be worn during special occasions like marriage, anniversaries, and other important events.
While Kahn caters to a niche market, our customer age range is actually quite broad, ranging from 28-70 years old.
Any exciting updates from Kahn that we should keep an eye out for in 2020?
We are very excited about our Fancy Colour Diamond series, which we are launching in the in the second quarter of 2020. We have been been sourcing the stones since last year and we have also started to design them, which is why we are very excited for this collection for 2020.
Photography | Chino Sardea
Hair and makeup | Nikki Fu using Schwarzkopf Pro and Shu Uemura
Outfit | Dolce & Gabbana SS 2020 Cruise Collection
Model | Chervil Tan / Mannequin