Business

Jewelers in Japan's Yamanashi Prefecture boosting sales in Asia

Kyodo

Small and medium-size jewelry makers in Yamanashi Prefecture are expanding their sales in other parts of Asia on the back of growing demand, with their techniques and designs hailed widely in China and elsewhere in the region.

The area’s jewelry industry has prospered in part because of the polishing techniques developed among jewelry makers through local crystal production. Yamanashi now boasts the largest shipment share in the country by value.

During an international jewelry exhibition in Tokyo in January, potential buyers from foreign countries were drawn to the work of Crossfor Co., a jewelry maker in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, whose designs use a special gem-setting mount that displays diamonds with an ever-glittering effect.

Thanks to the success of this “Dancing Stone” line, Crossfor has seen its sales roughly quadruple over the six-year period since the launch of the collection. Pieces with the unique diamond-setting design have been exported to other parts of Asia, including China.

Yamanashi accounts for about 25 percent of Japan’s total precious metal accessory shipments at around ¥25.9 billion, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

But domestic sales of jewelry have shrunk to about one-third the size of the market during the asset-inflated bubble economy. The Japan Jewelry Association blames the economic downturn and a fall in demand from new brides.

That stands in contrast to the demand for jewelry in other parts of Asia, which continues to grow. Particularly in China, a jewelry market about nine times as large as Japan’s, the number of young people who wear reasonably priced accessories increases every day. Jewelry demand from newlyweds, which accounts for half of the market, is also robust. The strong demand comes despite a corruption crackdown under President Xi Jinping that resulted in a big drop in gift spending.

Kofu-based jewelry maker Lucky Co. has tripled its overseas sales in the past few years after tying up with seven sales agencies in China and Taiwan, where low-priced 18-karat gold items are in large demand.

“We want to expand sales bases further to meet demand,” said Kashi Nagayama, a Lucky official overseeing its businesses abroad.

An official of the Japan External Trade Organization, the government-backed export promotion body, said that “China has potential as a market despite its higher duties.”

Masayoshi Yamagishi, a prefectural government official, said Yamanashi is willing to support local businesses as they expand into overseas markets at a time when the domestic market is hitting a wall.

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