The first-ever buying show dedicated to the Latin American jewelry market concluded its three-day inaugural run Oct. 24 at the Westin Playa Bonita in Panama City, where 50 high-end exhibitors from the United States and Europe courted Latin retailers during matchmaking-style events designed to nurture budding relationships between buyers and sellers eager to exploit the region’s booming economy.
“We are pleased with the market’s response to LUXURY Privé Panama,” said Yancy Weinrich, group vice president of JCK Events. “Our focus throughout has been to be the catalyst for introductions between our exhibitors and the leading retailers in Latin America.”
The fair kicked off on Sunday night with a festive Panamanian dance celebration, but the introductions began in earnest on Monday morning with a designer meet-and-greet event intended to mimic a speed-dating session.
For exhibitors anxious to tap the fast-growing South American market—Mikimoto, John Hardy, and Rahaminov, to name a few—the show offered an opportunity to enjoy face time with the region’s finest retailers, many of whom carry luxury watch brands such as Rolex and Cartier but are still getting acquainted with the top names in jewelry.
Diamond chandelier earrings by Rahaminov
“I do really well with some retailers in Brazil and I wanted to explore the other countries, and there was no better platform than LUXURY Privé,” said Divyanshu Navlakha of Sutra, a Houston-based jewelry manufacturer that showed a new collection of tanzanite jewelry framed by blue sapphires.
Tanzanite was also evident in a handful of standout pieces by Miiori, a New York City-based company that debuted a new collection of colorful, diamond-set titanium jewels designed to catch the eyes of retailers on the hunt for styles that defied convention.
“Most retailers here are looking for something new,” said Hovig Agopian of Miiori. “They’re not interested in buying the same old things.”
The show took its cues from LUXURY Privé New York, an annual invitation-only buying fair that debuted at New York City’s Pierre Hotel in August 2011. The Privé concept is predicated on creating a relaxed yet upscale environment to encourage vendors and retailers to build relationships that will pay off over the long term.
At the Utopia booth, director of U.S. operations Manuel Martin said he had high hopes that the meetings he had in Panama would culminate next spring with sales at Baselworld, where the best Latin retailers do the bulk of their buying.
“We were able to make a few new contacts and hopefully, they’ll come to fruition,” Martin said.
In addition to a slew of evening events infused with a spirited Latin vibe, the Privé Panama agenda included two keynote presentations. Italian designer and branding visionary Roberto Coin addressed retailers about complying with gold and diamond-buying protocols that would ensure an ethically responsible supply chain, while interior design/branding specialist Pam Bristow discussed the importance of “the selling ceremony”—visual merchandising schemes that help create a dynamic store environment to encourage conversation and sales.
During the latter presentation, retailer Jamille Grünwald Guizardi, owner of Princess Joias in Cuiabá, the capital of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, shared an anecdote about a recent event she held in one of her two stores. She said she was happy to be at the show and to make the acquaintance of new vendors, given her customers’ unyielding desire for new things.
“Brazil is growing—my business is growing,” Guizardi said. “But if you don’t surprise the clients every day, it’s not going to work.”