The first (and last) time I was in Vienna, it was September 1978 and I was a 5-year-old émigré, en route to the West with my parents and twin sister. We were part of a wave of Jews fleeing the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and the Austrian capital was a way station for our community of refugees; the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the chief sponsor of the exodus, maintained a base here.
The scene in Vienna
Today, I’m back—and my mission couldn’t be more different. My purpose in Vienna this time is to moderate a panel discussion at the LINK Jewelry Summit, a forum for business leaders in the jewelry industry to discuss the factors shaping the market. Sponsored by Swarovski and the International Herald Tribune (aka “the global edition of The New York Times”), the conference, which kicks off with a welcome cocktail event tonight, unites some of the world’s most important jewelry decision-makers.
Although the focus is more on fashion (as opposed to fine) jewelry, the degree to which the categories have merged is reflected in the names of the companies represented here: Amrapali, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, Erickson Beamon, Fabergé, Gitanjali, Honora, Pandora, Richline, and Trollbeads, to name a few.
Fashion jewelry at the venue where the LINK Jewelry Summit is being held
My session takes place on Tuesday afternoon. One of the reasons the organizers of the conference asked me to participate is because I’ve been a freelance contributor to the paper’s luxury sections since 2006. As editor of JCK, I also offer a journalistic neutrality that will guide the questions I put to the panelists taking part in the roundtable discussion.
They include: Joe Cavalcante, CEO of Ippolita; Bryan Crisfield, president and CEO of Crislu; Massimo Carraro, chairman and CEO of Morellato; Lise Aagaard, founder of Trollbeads; and Robert Buchbauer, a member of the executive board for Swarovski.
We’ll be discussing the state of the global economy and strategies for growth, as well as hot-button issues including the outlook for 3-D manufacturing—all of which I’ll report back on in the weeks to come.
On Wednesday, I’m heading to Switzerland for the start of the Baselworld watch and jewelry fair—and, let’s not forget, spargel (white asparagus) season! Next week at this time, I’ll be back in New York City, scrambling to make sense of the reams of information I’m sure to pick up this week. Follow me on Twitter (@vika22) and InstaGram (vikavickyvictoria) for realtime updates from the show.