Baselworld 2012 Fair Ends on Upbeat Note

The 40th edition of the 2012 Baselworld fair, March 8–15, ended yesterday, marking the conclusion of eight days of luxury product launches and orders for the international fine jewelry and watch industry.

Swiss watch exhibitors in the fair noted vintage trends including monochrome and two-tone variations in black, white, and silver, as well as more mechanical numbers and models with visible inner movements. Based on anecdotal show reports thus far, firms anticipate exceeding the 20 billion CHF exports (nearly 30 million watches) it experienced last year thanks to growth in emerging markets like Asia and the Middle East.

On the jewelry side, orange and blue were the colors of note, while jade and pearls saw placement and popularity in an increasing number of collections. Mikimoto introduced jade into its collections for the first time, in addition to more akoya pearl designs to hit a lower price point.

Roberto Coin maintained that his 2012 sales were “very good,” thanks in part to growth in China and continued reinvestments into his firm, such as his newly unveiled karat gold eyeglasses and Nido or Birds Nest styles that require special machinery to create woven but airy-looking bracelets in 18k gold. Another Coin note: less global competition. “There aren’t many people left,” he told JCK in a market visit during the fair. “I would prefer that the market does well overall.”

One-of-a-kind sales also continued to do well. Mikimoto sold out of several on the first day of the fair, and one of Coin’s newest collections highlighted reproducible mountings set with special gemstones. “Customers want one-offs,” he explained. Ditto for Italian manufacturer Mattioli, whose designer and principal, Licia Mattiolli, added more limited-edition carved cameos accented with rough diamonds. Unveiled last year to commemorate 150 years of unification in Italy, the firm commemorates well-known women like like Pauline Bonaparte in pendants, earrings, rings, and bracelets in styles starting at $13,000.

Meanwhile, traffic at Picchiotti in Hall 2.2 had picked up this year according to Maria Carola Picchiotti, whose firm is known for significant diamond and gemstone classics and one-offs. Though Picchiotti hadn’t encountered as many American visitors, she did entertain numerous guests from the United Kingdom and Middle East, as well as some walk-ins from Japan. “Baselworld is still a very international show,” she said.

American buyers spotted in the hallways at the show included Jeremy and Melissa Oster of Oster Jewelers in Denver, and Harvey and Maddie Rovinsky of Bernie Robbins Jewelers, with locations in Radnor, Pa., among others. While the Osters shopped for watches and high-quality gold lines like Wellendorf, the Rovinskys admired titanium and gold pieces from Busatti in Hall 3.0.

“Quality is what’s selling,” noted Melissa Oster.

The number of visitors to this year’s fair increased one percent to 104,300. Exhibitors totaled 1,815, from 41 different countries, and the number of journalists totaled 3,320, a rise of nine percent over last year.

Next year’s fair, taking place April 25 to May 2, 2013, will feature 430 million CHF in updates implemented by architects Herzog & de Meuron of Basel, designers of the Bird’s Nest national stadium in Beijing.

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