Report from Tendence: Bold Beads and Daring Designs

“Experimentation in design” was the dominant theme among jewelry artisans exhibiting at the Präsent and Carat and the Carat Creative sections of the Tendence International Trade Fair, a consumer goods show held Aug. 24-28 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Why travel to Frankfurt for jewelry? “Our niche is design,” says Stephan Kurzawski, director of consumer goods fairs for Messe Frankfurt. “You’ll find unique high-fashion designs here, such as gold mixed with rubber bands or gold and plastic.”

And because design—not materials used—is key, fine jewelry and costume jewelry share the same floor space. “Exhibitors don’t want to separate high- and low-cost jewelry, because mixing materials represents modern design,” explained Gerhard Gladitsch, managing director of Messe Frankfurt, during an international press conference held at the fair.

Large colored beads were popular among buyers, and turquoise and carnelian beads were among the most abundant at the booths of bead dealers. Linda Goldberg, owner of Tresor Gallery in West Hartford, Conn., and a first-time attendee, was surprised to find beads. “I operate an international gallery, and I came here looking for international designers,” she says. “I didn’t expect to find beads, but I’m impressed with the quality and selection available.”

A number of exhibitors showcased stark but stunning Northern European designs. Birgitta Schulz’s “Supergalaxie Armband,” for example, incorporates sleek Scandinavian silver with petite Chinese freshwater pearls.

Final show figures for the Präsent (giftware) and Carat and Carat Creative (jewelry) sections of Tendence mirrored last year’s figures. Jewelry accounted for 11% of the show, and jewelry exhibitors totaled 516, including 410 from Germany. A total of 4,700 vendors—including furniture and textile makers—participated in the consumer goods show.

Several new buildings were used for the first time during this show, including Hall 3 and the Forum. Messe Frankfurt’s management continues to improve the fairgrounds—as well as the number, variety, and quality of exhibitor’s wares—to compete with other major European shows such as Basel and Inhorgenta.