Currency woes keep Americans focused at BaselWorld

With the dollar’s continued inferior status against the euro, BaselWorld 2005 was no bargain for American jewelry buyers. The European pavilions were conspicuously slower than the building that houses Asian, Indian, Turkish, and other national delegations, which generally was mobbed.

European designers have responded to the dollar/euro situation either by adjusting their designs to use fewer stones, less metal, or alternative materials; or they’ve worked at ways to bring labor costs down. Others had wisely hedged against a currency fluctuation—both gold and diamonds are traded in dollars—but hedging is only going to keep prices steady until the manufacturer’s inventory runs out, if the situation doesn’t change.

Still, while it’s been tough on American buyers here and on the manufacturers who sell to them, it hasn’t been a disaster. On the higher end, the currency issue is less of a concern because, as Wendell Figeruoa of Damiani points out, the people who can afford that kind of jewelry won’t quibble with a price rise. And, quite a few European manufacturers said that while the American market is tough right now, there’s a tremendous emerging market in both Eastern Europe and non-Japanese Asia, and strong buying from both has helped to offset losses of American business.

Trend-wise, there was a great deal of very pretty jewelry but no one single overriding trend to be seen. Color remains strong, particularly greens, oranges, and anything with a yellow-based undertone, although pinks and blues were still important. Coral seems to be a spring/summer trend in Europe, but it has traditionally been a tough sell in America.