Highlights of the VicenzaOro Winter 2013 Fair in Vicenza, Italy

It was a busy week in Vicenza, Italy, from Jan. 19 to 24, for the VicenzaOro Winter 2013 fair. The annual jewelry show featured 1,500 exhibitors and 8,586 visitors from 27 countries. Additionally, traffic to the 36th edition of the T-GOLD jewelry technology show boasted 12,000 visitors from five continents, all angling to see the newest innovations from 120 companies.

A few highlights of the fair:

Opening summit: “The Future. Now. New perspectives in Jewellery”
A panel discussion sponsored by Swarovski Gems took place on the opening day of the show. “The Future. Now” theme—which will unify all three annual editions of the VicenzaOro 2013 fairs—speaks to the evolving international jewelry market and opportunities that exist for firms who “grasp the general mood” of sales today, according to Roberto Ditri, president of Fiera di Vicenza, the show organizer.

Financial Times journalist Simon Brooke led the discussion among guests including: Nadja Swarovski of Swarovski Gems; designer Stephen Webster; Joanne Arbuckle, dean of the School of Art and Design at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology; Artak Udumyan, vice president of Estet (a retail store) in Russia; designer Roberto Coin; Hank Siegel of Hamilton Jewelers in the United States; and Jenny Jing, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar in China.  

The event aimed to clarify the future of jewelry through a look at strategic distribution markets and speak to the growing role of social responsibility.

Swarovski spoke of the importance of having a designer behind a creation, and how that creative eye challenges her product development team to creation striking crystal and natural gemstone cuts that are covetable “on their own merit, and not as diamond imitations.” Arbuckle reinforced Swarovski’s message, stating that educators were “no longer just focused on the craft” but on the importance of this sort of collaboration.

On a related note, Udumyan told attendees that having a partner in Russia was critical because it was a country “still in transition.”

“It’s not like in the West,” he maintained. “Russia is very different in all different regions, and a partner provides connections. But having a partner in Moscow does not mean it will be easy to go to a different city.”

Relationships are equally important in other countries. Siegel noted the importance of “closer interaction with clients” as the road to success, as did Coin, who travelled the United States extensively to get to know his customers. “I listened to them and what they wanted—I truly understood because I went to the U.S.,” he says.

Participants also noted the importance of responsible business practices and ethical sourcing of materials. Webster has a fair trade gold license with a mine in Peru, and Siegel insists that “tomorrow’s consumer will want it.”

Roberto Ditri, president of Fiera di Vicenza

Roberto Ditri, president of Fiera di Vicenza

American Retailers
A delegation of 25 store owners from the United States walked the fair, shopping for new ideas, designers, and a first look at trends for the year. A Speed Greet opportunity was arranged as well, for manufacturers to meet with retailers to quickly assess whether or not mutual interests could mesh. Store owners like Hank Siegel, president of Hamilton Jewelers in Lawrence Township and Princeton, N.J., and Palm Beach, Fla., Chris Graham of Graham Jewelers in Wayzata, Minn., and Lisa Vinicur of Diane Glynn Distinctive Jewelry in Jenkintown, Pa., among others, attended, looking for companies with great offerings for their stateside shoppers. 

Said Graham: “In Vicenza we are looking for unique and marvelous jewelry designs, produced by Italian craftsmen that we don’t see in America.” Siegel called it “an enormous opportunity” for his store.

Trend Vision Jewellery + Forecasting
Paola De Luca, who heads up trend forecasting for the Fiera di Vicenza trade shows, addressed attendees in two different presentations during the fair. De Luca spoke of influential trends for the next 18 months, all of which is available for reference through the purchase of her Trend Book +2014. Highlights of her presentation included the suggestion that diamond sales have returned to pre-crisis levels; consumers are buying less but are more interested in quality purchases; and the prevalence of organic shapes, laser-cut styles, lightweight pieces, coins and tassels, and affinities for exotic looks among well-traveled consumers.

The Boutique Show
Fair organizers unveiled a new exhibition concept that “will transform Fiera di Vicenza into a future hub” as of January 2014, according to organizers. It will include a new infrastructure and services, designed to enhance the experience of buyers and retailers, and will transform the Italian fair into “an ultra-technological and international business hub,” complete with a multimedia structure, an interactive experience, and a global organization with virtual and nonvirtual extensions, according to Fiera di Vicenza. Specifics include a reinvented exhibition space containing six themed areas, including Icon, Creation, and Look for jewelry; Essence for gemstones and precious components; Expression for packaging and visual merchandising; and Evolution for precious metal processing technologies. The presence of the TrendVision research center aims to be a unifying factor and directional guide.

A shopper at VicenzaOro Winter 2013

A shopper at VicenzaOro Winter 2013

About J
Fiera di Vicenza’s invitation-only fair will take place Sept. 4–7 in Venice, Italy, and will feature 35 select jewelry brands and an international guest list of 100 buyers. Additionally, fair organizers are collaborating with the Associazione Orafa Valenzana, an association founded in 1945 that represents the Valenza District, for support in promoting About J and two proposed invitation-only events aimed at taking the best of Italian jewelry production to strategic markets. The events will be supported by Italian firms dedicated to promoting the Made in Italy idea abroad.

VicenzaOro Show Presence Abroad
In steps toward internationalization, fair organizers aim to have greater presence at select shows abroad: at the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show (March 5–9); through Tecnogold (a variation of the fair’s T-GOLD exhibit, organized with Association of Producers and Exporters of Gold Processing Machinery) in São Paulo; in the UAE during Dubai International Jewellery Week; and in Mumbai at the India International Jewellery Show.

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