Shenzhen Foreway Jewellery Group Co Ltd is counting on improved traditional craftsmanship, modern technology and trendy designs to grow its customer base and capture China’s millennial market.
China’s gold jewellery sector is heavily influenced by traditional craftsmanship, something which the younger generation associates with old-fashioned products, said company chairman Ye Xiangzhou.
Ye, however, noted that traditional crafts, especially filigree inlaid metal art, are exceptional art forms that deserved to be revitalised. To adapt to changing market conditions and cater to post-80s and post-90s consumers, traditional craftsmanship must be modernised and adjust to current trends.
Currently, the cost of producing gold jewellery using the hydraulic processing method has been reduced to 0.8 renminbi per gram. Foreway’s hydraulic processing costs could climb up to 15 renminbi per gram at its peak, and are currently pegged above 5 renminbi per gram. Ye believes that this type of gold jewellery has room for continued growth. For demand to take off, however, manufacturers must be willing to embrace a two-pronged approach – improve traditional processes and push for innovative product designs.
Filigree inlaid metal art
An intangible cultural heritage of China, the ancient art of filigree inlay comes at a steep price in terms of labour costs. Addressing this challenge, Ye uses CNC routers to fashion customised filigree inlays. This manufacturing innovation was introduced two years ago. Last year, the technology was further developed to enable the creation of all kinds of textures and patterns, including three-dimensional configurations. Foreway’s product lines created using this technology are vivid and delicate, he said. This year, Foreway will introduce 360 filigree inlay products to the market.
Changing consumers tastes also means changing work processes on the part of manufacturers. Dedicated to improving product designs and technologies, Foreway combined a three-dimensional mould with the CNC router to produce three-dimensional products. A team of experts developed this advanced technology, which requires expertise, not only in cutting processes, but also in machine-code programming. Ye pointed out that this is quite a feat for small-sized factories to achieve, adding that even bigger-sized manufacturers will find this a difficult task.
Innovation is another important development direction for Foreway. In November 2016, Foreway became a strategic partner of the World Gold Council (WGC) Innovation Centre – the only jewellery manufacturer of its kind to do so. Foreway will develop product lines using advanced techniques by cooperating with technology companies and well-known brands through the WGC platform.