After a two-year COVID-induced in-person hiatus, the Jewellery Industry Fair is back with a bang. Across the two-day event on February 6 and 7, the event will showcase dozens of suppliers, retailers and other exhibitors, feature guest speakers and host special events for attendees. Here we spoke to the event organiser along with several exhibitors to see what’s in store. – By Stefan Juengling
Now in its fourth year, the Jewellery Industry Fair is the first dedicated jewellery event for the year. Presented by Jewellery Industry Network, headed by managing director Laura Moore, the Fair will give jewellers and retailers across Australia an opportunity to discover new collections, meet new suppliers, and see some of Australia’s most awe-inspiring pieces of fine jewellery. Laura said the Network has now held two virtual fairs (during COVID-interrupted 2020 and 2021) plus a business summit, but the upcoming Fair will be very different with just over 40 exhibitors and lots to experience on the day.
Being part of Melbourne’s return to business.
After enduring more than two years of rolling lockdowns in Melbourne, many of the exhibitors we spoke to saw the Fair as an opportunity to reconnect to suppliers and retailers face-to-face and be part of postpandemic life.
Director Erica Miller of major Sydney-based pearl wholesaler Ikecho said she loves exhibiting at fairs. “It gives you the opportunity to see our customers face-to-face and to show them all our new collections,” she said “Having no fairs in two years, I thought we could come to Melbourne so our Victorian and Tassie customers didn’t have to travel interstate, make it easier for them.”
Fortune Opal is a well-respected Australian opal miner and supplier, and one of Fortune’s directors Ted Hamilton said their company’s goal is to introduce all Australian jewellers to the sensational Lightning Ridge Black Opal. Thus, they saw the Fair as an opportunity to do just that. “After the last 2 years we wanted to be a part of Melbourne getting back to business,” he said.
“We feel there is an opportunity for the jewellery industry to not just bounce back but achieve real growth in an atmosphere of living one’s best life post-pandemic.”
The Fair is also a prime occasion for relatively new brands to get exposure, two such brands being Vous Creations and Salt and Pepper Diamonds. Headed by owner/designer Jennifer Van Den Broek, Vous Creations is a Melbourne-based bespoke personalised jewellery business established in March last year. Starting in the thrall of the pandemic, Jennifer only had four months of operation to work with amidst the business restrictions.
During this time, she took a step back to allow retailers to find their feet in business, and decided to use the upcoming Fair as an ideal occasion to relaunch her brand. “I have worked with Laura Sawade over the years and I am confident that she will organise a very successful event and give us the best possible chance to get back to business,” she said.
Sydney-based sterling silver designer jewellery brand Najo will also be exhibiting, and CEO Jo Tory said she felt the Fair has a very fresh, new approach to a trade fair. “I think it is more diverse and has a broad appeal to the jewellery industry at large,” she said. “I am looking forward to meeting a variety of industry members, not only retailers.”
Salt and Pepper Diamonds is a Coffs Harbourbased supplier of the eponymous naturally heavily flawed diamonds. Founder Ben Cunningham saw the Fair as his way of getting his product out to new retailers. Another diamond supplier exhibiting at the Fair is Grown Diamonds: Melbourne/ Sydney-based lab grown diamond supplier. Director Miriam Neubauer said that the Fair is a chance for her brand to be involved in such a fun jewellery trade event in person. “We always love seeing our customers,” she said.
For the gem suppliers, director Grant Hamid from Hamid Bros. said the Fair is great opportunity to showcase a range of their extensive stock to existing and potential new clients. “We look forward to connecting face-to-face, or mask-to-mask,” he said. Darren Roberts is director of men’s jewellery and accessories wholesaler Cudworth Enterprises, and he said that Cudworth wanted to be part of this exciting event and connect in person to the jewellery industry.
From the organiser’s point of view, Laura said her team has been thrilled by the level of support and interest in the Fair. “We have received hundreds of guest registrations from all over Australia and can’t wait to finally meet with the industry after such a long time,” she said. “We have some exhibitors who we haven’t seen at a fair for many, many years, and some who are launching their businesses and brands with us, so we feel very lucky to have such wonderful supporters and be backed by so many amazing industry companies.”
A sneak peek at what’s on offer
Some of the best of Australian fine jewellery will be on display at the Jewellery Industry Fair, and Laura said some of their exhibitors are using the event to launch new brands, new products and new services which the industry can’t wait to see. “We also have a collection of prizes that guests can win by attending,” she said.
Over the two-day event, Jewellery Industry Network will present a host of speakers who will discuss business sustainability. Laura said her team are also excited to welcome Instagram influencer Champagne Gem, who will visit the Fair and participate in a live podcast. “Along with this, the Fair will be stocked with great features like delicious food trucks, coffee carts, a bar and freshly shucked oysters,” she said. “It’s really going to be an event you won’t want to miss!”
The exhibitors we spoke to also gave us a taste of what they’re keen to showcase. Miriam said that Grown Diamonds will present a range of their exquisite lab grown diamonds in a range of cuts, colours, clarities and carats. “We will be promoting an eco-friendly standard to jewellery making materials at the best prices with our 5-star customer service,” she said.
Vous Creations will be offering their industry bespoke statement pendants and earrings, and Jen said their products are available in 9, 10, 14, 18, and 22ct yellow, white and rose gold, handset with GHSI diamonds and natural gemstones. “These pieces can be sold individually or as a range,” she said. “(We’re) also launching the Cherish range: an interchangeable pendant and charm collection.”
Jo said that Najo will be exhibiting AQUA: their new collection of sterling silver and stone-set jewellery. “We will also be displaying all the Najo bestselling items and core collection,” she said.
At the end of last year, Ikecho launched their new collection which had a lot of solid gold pieces with Freshwater Edison pearls. Erica said this new release garnered a great response over Christmas, and hopes to showcase them at the Fair.
Darren said Cudworth Enterprises will be keen to promote their range of jewellery and accessories from various lines including Cudworth Collections, Hugo Boss, Tateossian and Festina.
Those after high quality coloured gems will be more than catered for by Hamid Bros.’ range of sapphires, rubies, emeralds, aquamarines, alexandrites, tourmalines, spinels, amethysts, and zircons, among many others.
For Ted, it’s going to be primarily about Fortune Opal’s Lightning Ridge Black Opal, with a range on offer covering commercial grade right through to collector’s pieces. “We will also have a selection of gem-grade Queensland Boulder Opal: another great Australia gemstone the world needs to see more of,” he said. Ben will be keen to showcase his collection of Salt and Pepper Diamonds’ loose stones at the Fair.
It’s been so long, hope to see you at the Fair
After so long apart, the Jewellery Industry Fair also gives exhibitors the chance to see familiar faces again along with opportunities to see new faces and make new connections.
Jo said she’d of course love to find new retailers, but said that one of the things she loved about trade fairs is the sharing of knowledge, contacts and networking. “You will always find new leads and learn something,” she said. “I think the jewellery industry is very collaborative like that and I think that this Fair has the Industry at heart.” Along a similar note, Darren said after a long pandemic-induced absence, his team at Cudworth is looking forward to reconnecting with their valued retail partners as well as other suppliers.
“We are also looking forward to meeting prospective retailer partners,” he said.” Miriam said she’s looking forward to seeing all of Grown Diamonds’ valued customers and new customers. “(plus) being diamond purveyors, we are always happy to see the GAA and the JAA,” she said. As an escape from our largely online world of commerce, Grant said his team at Hamid Bros. anticipate meeting the many clients they deal with by phone, email through Facebook and Instagram, but don’t have an opportunity to see in person.
“The Fair is a great way for the trade to reconnect in a very personal way after a long period of digital communication,” he said. Erica said she’s hoping to see a lot of Victorian and Tassie customers Ikecho haven’t seen in a long while and hopes to pick up some new clients. Ben said it will be nice to see familiar faces again after extensive lockdowns, and will enjoy catching up with retailers.
At Vous Creations, Jennifer is looking forward to reconnecting with fellow suppliers who she’s known for more than 14 years, and the retailers where many friendships have been built over 17 years. “I am hoping to introduce my brand all over again and hoping that the industry that I have grown up in and loved with a passion, will support me back by supporting my Brand, even if it’s in the smallest way possible,” she said.
Ted and his team at Fortune Opal eagerly await meeting young and new designers who may be inspired to create pieces centred around Australian opal. “We look forward to catching up with friends in the industry and making new partnerships with Jewellers we are yet to meet,” he said.”
Laura said she hopes attendees and exhibitors can start the year by doing great business and by being inspired by each other. “We have a beautiful industry and with the government encouraging us to get back to work and trade, it’s time for us to continue to build and reconnect,” she said.
Register here at www.jewelleryindustryfair.com