A new industry event for a new era

By Kirsten Ehrlich Davies

The Jewellery Industry Network overcame countless obstacles and setbacks to launch the industry’s social networking event of the year – the Jewellery Industry Fair.

After two long years, the jewellery industry has finally launched back into in-person networking and buying, with a dynamic and versatile new format to meet the challenges of the 2020s. The inaugural Jewellery Industry Fair (JIF22) – held at the Timber Yard in Melbourne on February 6th and 7th. – was an exciting achievement for the Jewellery Industry Network (JIN), headed by managing director Laura Moore, who had deftly navigated multiple obstacles and delays over the last two years to make the long-awaited fair a reality.

While there have been virtual fairs during the pandemic, these events cannot achieve same colourful collaborative energy of a real-world jewellery fair. With more than 450 guests over two days, it was a testament to the ambience of the event that people lingered for hours, rather than just dropping in to “shop and go”. While last minute restrictions prevented attendees from Western Australia, the other Australian states were strongly represented by exhibitors and guests, making the fair a resounding success.

Gemmologist Victoria Gibbins said that the event “brought style and youth to the industry” while Jennifer from Vous Creations said “the vibe from the fair and the JIF team have been most friendly and supportive… it has paid off in more ways than one.”

“It was a fun-filled, business-filled event,” said Laura. “Guests had the opportunity to learn more about new brands and view new product lines, see what the industry is doing, and keep up with market trends.”

Innovation and Transformation

The Timber Yard, in the centre of Melbourne, was a fitting backdrop for the sparkling jewels, precious metals and elegant innovative designs on display at JIF22. A spacious and versatile 6,000 sqm venue, the Timber Yard is consisting of indoor and outdoor spaces, designed around the philosophy of recycling and upcycling. Laura saw a connection between the refurbished premises and the art of making jewellery. “The beautiful space of the Timber Yard is airy and bright, making it easy to network,” said Laura. “It has a raw rustic artisan atmosphere, which complements the work of jewellers who transform raw materials into items of beauty.”

The COVID-safe event provided the long-awaited opportunity to mingle with fellow industry members, along with the hybrid option of joining the event online. Virtual attendees could browse through the list of exhibitors, click to view booths, interact with exhibitors by sending questions or products requests, and watch live feeds from the Fair.

Exhibitors at the Fair included Chemgold, Cudworth, Hamid Bros, Ikecho, Millennium Chain, Fortune Opal, Metro Diamonds, Najo, JC Jewels and so many more. Influencer Bebe Bashke of Champagne Gem gave a live podcast interview, which will be available to listen to on The Jewellers Podcast.

Sustainability Message

The venue also reflected one of the key messages behind the event – sustainability. Both event days hosted various speakers who spoke on the topic of sustainability from their own different perspectives, all relevant to the jewellery industry audience. Matt Taylor of Heart HR spoke on building a sustainable workforce, while Andy Phanthapangna of Apeirogon Technology talked about sustainable technology for your business, and Jacky Green of Grit and Heart Coaching gave a talk on sustainable leadership for the future of your business.

Paul Moore, Head of Energy at Sage Group had some important tips on how to make a jewellery business more environmentally sustainable, and Jeff Sawade spoke about safety and wellbeing for your business.

The best-attended event at JIF22 was the talk given by Rami Baron, CEO of both Q Report Jewellery Insurance and The Australian Jewellers Consortium. Rami spoke about NFT, block chain and cryptocurrency, and their place in the jewellery industry.

A Touch of Luxury

Designer Kiron Barui of Wearing Memories has built her jewellery range, such as her signature champagne locket, around “the sound of happiness” – the popping of a champagne cork. So it was fitting for Wearing Memories to be Sparkling Sponsor at the event, and arrange for every attendee at JIF22 to receive a complimentary glass of bubbles.

Once inside, attendees could enjoy complimentary freshly shucked oysters served by roaming oyster butlers or they could explore the options available at the bar and the food trucks at the event. On the Sunday evening, around 80 to 90 people attended Sparkle Under the Stars, a cocktail party for suppliers and customers to mingle and network, while enjoying drinks and canapes in an exciting and convivial atmosphere.

Door prizes donated by sponsors ranged from glamorous – a set of lab-grown diamond emerald cut pendant and matching studs from JC Jewels – to practical – an Introduction to Gems & Gemmology short course in your state, from GAA. The National Council of Jewellery Valuers (NCJV) gave away a prize of $2,000 to be spent at any exhibit at the fair. This prize was won by Michelle Cangiano Jewellery – Michelle is very excited by her win, and says she intends to spend the prize money on gemstones from Hamid Bros.

Upskilling Opportunities

While JIF22 was primarily a promotional and buying event, for some attendees, it was also an opportunity to consider options for upskilling and further education. Jewellery Industry Network (JIN) and Minres provided information regarding the Business Certificate III, while representatives of the company Banquet Creative had some great marketing tips for visitors to JIF22.

As well as giving away generous door prizes, the NCJV and GAA also had information on training options for industry members. Members also have access to an expert network for up-to-date advice and guidance regarding industry issues.

Marketing Exposure and Promotion

The lead-up to JIF22 inspired some symbiotic promotion as jewellery businesses showcased their upcoming product lines and innovations. This promotional strategy attracts the attention of customers and industry peers, and helps create a buzz about new product lines while simultaneously highlighting the fair. Golden Mile Jewellery Manufacturers began linking their social media promotions to JIF22 in late January, with an Instagram post of a variety of gold chains, captioned: “Stand by. Launching new designs at the Melbourne fair.”

The next few posts presented the launch of a range of new chain styles at the fair, while simultaneously promoting those products and the fair itself on social media. Salt and Pepper Diamonds took a similar approach, posting a link to the fair with the caption “We will be there! Find us near the entrance”; followed by images of their display booth featuring their ethically sourced natural earth mined diamonds. Brand ambassadors Philippe Poix and Craig Troy of Poix & Troy gave sneak previews of their booth on Instagram: “Just add the jewellery and we are ready to see you tomorrow.” Najo Jewellery promoted the latest Halo collection in connection with the company’s appearance at the fair.

The new face of networking

The overwhelming success of JIF22 was due to the tireless planning and perseverance of the team at the Jewellery Industry Network, who channelled the obstacles of the last two years into a dynamic and versatile event that propels the industry into the 2020s. The result was a truly inspiring and welcoming event, where attendees were enthusiastic about participating, whether as exhibitors or visitors.

Chris Sherwin of the Gold and Silversmith Guild paid tribute to “the enthusiasm and professional dedication” of everyone involved in running the fair. “Despite the difficulties of the last two years of the pandemic, the optimism in the event has opened the door to fresh beginnings for many organisations within the jewellery industry,” Chris said.

Adam from Orange River Diamonds expressed the same views more succinctly: “Thanks for putting on a great fair, we had a blast.”

Further reading: