La Dolce Vita for Italian Goldsmiths

The World Gold Council (WGC), in partnership with the Vicenza Fair, has unveiled 430 gold jewelry pieces designed and produced by Italian goldsmiths as part of Gold Expressions 2005, a product-development program aimed at reinvigorating exports of Italian gold jewelry and reviving the desirability of gold jewelry worldwide. The collection is traveling this year to Italy, the Far East, the Middle East, and India, the world’s other primary markets for gold jewelry.

Using the findings of a global study of primary consumers of jewelry, WGC for the second consecutive year created a design brief challenging Italian gold jewelry manufacturers to produce gold necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings to satisfy the evolving preferences of jewelry consumers around the world. The study, which was based on research among gold consumers in the United States, China, India, Europe, and the Middle East, discovered that contemporary designs and styles of gold jewelry were found to be lacking at point-of-sale, especially when faced with increased competition from the travel industry, electronics, and lifestyle-branded goods.

The collections unveiled today comprise more than 430 pieces of gold jewelry in two distinct motivational categories. The research revealed two prime emotional reasons for buying gold jewelry: as a gift of love, affection, and friendship, or to express a woman’s individuality and uniqueness. Each piece is innovative yet versatile, and accessibly priced for strong consumer appeal.

The initiative is closely aligned with the World Gold Council’s “There’s one language” advertising campaign, which was launched in the United States and Italy in September 2004. Just as the advertising uses the idea of gold as a language through which people can express profound emotions, Gold Expressions encourages designers to find a way to express those same emotions through product design.

Until the launch of Gold Expressions in 2004, Italian manufacturers—who had long been leaders in design, quality, and technological innovation—had been losing global market share as a result of emerging market competitors and the strong euro. However, preliminary export data indicate that participants are benefiting from last year’s inaugural program. During the first six months of 2004, exports of Italian gold jewelry rose nearly 6 percent, compared with a 34 percent decline between 2002 and 2003.

John Calnon, managing director, Americas, for WGC, said in a statement, “We’re confident that by continuing to help Italian gold jewelry manufacturers understand what is commercially relevant to the global marketplace and by giving them a global platform to exhibit, Gold Expressions will help Italian gold jewelry exports to continue to recover.”

Reflecting the success of the first year’s initiative, the number of participating manufacturers in Gold Expressions 2005 has increased to 70, up 30 percent. This figure represents more than 50 percent of the Italian gold jewelry industry by volume.

Manuela Dal Lago, president of Vicenza Fair, said: “Italy has long been the world’s center of excellence in gold jewelry design, craftsmanship, and technological innovation. We are delighted that Gold Expressions is helping Italian manufacturers re-establish their prominence in overseas jewelry markets.”

According to David Stettler, marketing and sales manager of UnoAErre Italia, the company’s 2004 Gold Expressions collection was distributed in 20 countries, and one of the lines sold more than 10,000 pieces, making it the largest-selling collection in the company’s 75-year history.