March Madness: Baselworld 2015 Preview



The industry is banking on continuing demand for luxury at Baselworld 2015

As if the chocolate and white asparagus weren’t enough of a draw, Baselworld, the luxury watch and jewelry fair taking place this year March 19–26, can always be counted on to lure visitors to Basel, Switzerland. Every year, the historic university town on the Rhine draws thousands of jewelers—retailers and vendors—who come to stock up on watches and peruse some of the world’s finest branded jewelry.

And despite the drop in oil prices that analysts speculate could hurt sales from Russia and the Middle East (not to mention the ongoing currency volatility), Lawrence Lewis is optimistic. “Certain people are still insulated, and still want to have the best and are willing to pay for that,” says the CEO of Assael in New York City.

Lewis has noticed improved business over the last year, noting a new wholesale account, Annoushka in London, opening in spring 2015. As for merchandise trends, “quality transcends everything,” he says. Expect to see pieces from Assael’s designer collaborations, its Endangered Species collection (it benefits animal conservation groups), and lots of baroque pearls, which are in demand due to their uniqueness, Lewis says.

Yoko London (with U.S. headquarters in New York City) specializes in ­gumball-size, natural-color freshwater pearls, and will bring ear cuffs, two-finger rings, and a new style of drop earrings with ornaments sprouting from the front and rear of the lobe. “Business is booming for us in certain parts of the world—particularly in the U.S.,” says CEO Michael Hakimian.

Meanwhile, Rosana Otani Warner, director of international sales for Carla Amorim in Chicago, will bring lots of unusual earrings and “some rare stones—little sapphire padparadscha and Paraiba tourmalines.” Warner expects to see buyers from all over the globe, but the bulk of her clients will hail from Russian-speaking countries like Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Russia, in addition to the Middle East and Japan. “Some of our best customers have already booked their appointments,” she says optimistically.