Craftsmanship, heritage and innovation form the DNA of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group (CTF), one of the largest jewellery companies in the world. These three factors are what Managing Director Kent Wong attribute to its success over the past 89 years. “Craftsmanship and heritage are irreplaceable; something we pass from one generation to another,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “Innovation is in our blood, to transform our business and people towards sustainability.”
Dazzling diamond earrings, brilliant gold necklaces and stunning diamond rings are just a taste of CTF’s broad jewellery line. And in 2015, the company unveiled its most awe-inspiring diamond necklace yet – ‘A Heritage in Bloom’.
The 383.4 carat diamond necklace is nothing short of a masterpiece. Embodying a combination of CTF’s core elements, ‘A Heritage in Bloom’ is crafted out of a rare 507.55 carat Cullinan Heritage – the massive rough diamond CTF purchased at auction for US$35.3 million back in 2010 – and holds a family of 24 diamonds. That number of diamonds created from a single rock was “an artistic decision unheard of in a contemporary piece,” Kent asides.
‘A Heritage in Bloom’ was designed by master jewellery artist Wallace Chan and incorporates thousands of white diamonds, hundreds of pink diamonds as well as more than 100 pieces of green jadeite and mutton fat white jade. Its mutton fat white jade beads emulate the shape of prayer beads while its 104-carat diamond centrepiece is surrounded by a circle of white jade. The circle celebrates the convergence of East and West cultures; jade is prized in the East, while diamonds are a symbol of love in the West.
The necklace features two diamond-studded bats – a sign of good fortune in Chinese culture – as well as two diamond butterflies that signify eternal love. The necklace took a team of 22 people and 47,000 hours to create, and can be worn in 27 different ways. While it was valued at around US$200 million in 2015, the company has no intentions to sell it as yet.
“A Heritage in Bloom’ is one of the rarest diamond masterpieces to have emerged from contemporary China, embodying Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group’s commitment to Chinese culture, patronage of the arts and status as a diamond expert,” Kent says. “We consider it a work of art that will last the ages as the crown jewel of the CTF brand.”
CTF was established in Guangzhou, Mainland China in 1929, and operates a number of business verticals. Chow Tai Fook Jewellery is its core business, which offers classic jewellery at reasonable prices. House 1929 provides one-of-a-kind artistic jewellery pieces with high-quality gemstones and superb craftsmanship.
Hearts On Fire is CTF’s US premium diamond brand, which delivers design-oriented bridal and fashion jewellery. CTF’s SOINLOVE brand taps into the affordable luxury bridal jewellery market and provides gem-set products with romantic style, while MONOLOGUE is targeted at trendsetting millennials’ demand for stylish jewellery.
“The rollout of a multi-brand strategy empowers us to provide diversified product offerings targeting multiple customer segments and expanding our overall market share,” says Kent.
CTF incorporates its main pillar of innovation throughout its business to ensure it delivers the best products to its customers. “The jewellery industry has been undergoing tremendous changes as customer preference and behaviour evolve over time,” Kent says. “The drivers for such changes are mainly triggered by the increased sophistication of customers as information becomes more transparent on the internet. It is also due to the increasing influence from the millennial group whose views are a significant diversion from the earlier generations.”
"Innovation is in our blood."
In terms of innovation, CTF launched its CHOW TAI FOOK T MARK brand in 2016, which takes diamond authentication to the next level. While the traditional method of tracing a diamond involves the four ‘Cs’ – colour, cut, clarity and carat – the T MARK introduces the ‘4Ts’: traceable, transparent, truthful and thoughtful. “The T MARK aims to fulfil customer demand and expectations for true diamond authenticity and traceability,” Kent says. “As an assurance, each CHOW TAI FOOK T MARK diamond is inscribed with a mark that carries a set of unique serial numbers, so customers can trace the journey of a diamond from sourcing to production.”
Chow Tai Fook’s T Mark
The tiny set of serial numbers ensures uniqueness, recording the diamond’s life journey.
Only five nanometres in thickness, the marking is a record of each stone to eliminate fraudulence.
Promises each stone is sourced responsibly and serves as a lifetime warranty.
The T MARK lets you see the true virtues of the diamond, allowing access to its history.
Kent adds that the patented, nano-inscription technology of the mark was awarded a gold medal at the 46th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva in April, 2018. It also secured CTF the Industry Innovation of the Year accolade at the 2017 JNA Awards in Hong Kong.
Moreover, CTF has collaborated with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the leading independent diamond grading authority, to use blockchain technology to deliver secure, digital, diamond grading reports to its customers. Through it, Kent says customers will receive a “permanent and immutable blockchain record of their diamond’s GIA grading information”.
CTF has embarked on a ‘Smart+ 2020’ strategic framework as a further commitment to innovation, technology and sustainability. Under this plan, the company focuses on five elements: products and brands, retail experience, customisation, culture, and insights. “In order to target multiple customer segments and expand overall market share, we are in the process of implementing our multi-brand strategy to further diversify our products and brands,” Kent explains.
“Chow Tai Fook was the first adopter of our IoT/RFID technologies and are true pioneers in their industry. We are grateful to be a partner of their success.” – Matthew Man, Founder & CEO, Myndar
“We will continue to create unique retail experiences across all of our channels and integrate online-to-offline customer journeys to expand our customer base. A more customer-driven approach will be adopted in our production and operations to spearhead product customisation, and deliver a personalised shopping journey to our customers. With the Smart+ 2020 plan already well underway, it’s clear to see that Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group is poised for a bright future.