Vicenzaoro First Opens

VICENZA, Italy — While Italian jewelry exports dropped more than 8 percent through the third quarter of 2008, the Vicenzaoro First fair opened on a somewhat promising note.

Italian government data reveals declines in imports from the United States, 28 percent, and the United Kingdom, 31 percent, but the increases from the United Arab Emirates, 15 percent, and Switzerland, five percent, among others, inspire optimism among the venue’s 1,700 exhibitors. An estimated 20,000 buyers pre-registered for the fair, according to Domenico Girardi, chief executive officer, who claims that that sum is down 20 percent at the start of what will likely be a challenging year.

At press time, jewelry trends reflected the current state of the economy: inexpensive quartz and low-quality ‘ice’ diamonds help give new collections a trendy look for less. Silver is also appearing more in the lines of a number of traditional goldsmiths, including Hellmuth Simply Good. (Check out the JCKstyle 360 blog for daily trend reports.)

Also of note at the show is a growing movement to promote the importance of country-of-origin marks on finished goods. At a press conference Sunday, Vicenzaoro First president, Dino Menarin, stressed the significance of ‘Made in Italy’ stamps. “There is a need for transparency,” said Menarin. European Commission vice president, Antonio Tajani, who was also present, added that these measures must proceed in order to “safeguard European [jewelry] producers.” The following day, Girardi reintroduced the topic at another meeting.

“[Vicenzaoro First] wants to celebrate ‘Made in Italy’,” he explained. “We are working with the [jewelry] sector and associations trying to guarantee transparency, trackability, and traceability. We owe it to the Italian jewelry industry and to consumers all over the world.”