The Italian jewellery industry kicked off 2011 at Vicenzaoro First with an impressive determination to reclaim Italy’s title as the home of the world’s best and most sought after gold jewellery.
Well aware of Italy’s shrinking share of the gold jewellery market, the country’s jewellery designers, craftsman and distributors are united in their bid to re-establish ‘Made in Italy’ as an internationally recognised ‘symbol’ of superior quality, style and design.
However, despite the dazzling display of quality, style and design filling the halls of Vicenzaoro First, it is clear that the Italian industry is facing a major challenge.
Indeed, according to the World Gold Council it will take at least eight years for the country’s gold jewellery sales to reach pre-GFC volumes.
The Council reports that global jewellery demand grew 10 percent in quantity to reach 1978.3 tonnes and 43 percent in value to total US$73.5 billion from September 2009 to September 2010 but that this was due to “the extraordinary performance of key new markets”.
“India has been confirmed as the most important market, followed by China and the Middle East,” says the Council.
“The US, number one in classifications until a few years ago, is now in fourth place.”
Robert Ditri, the president of Fiera Di Vicenza (the company that organises the Vicenza Fair), openly acknowledged the problems plaguing the local jewellery industry.
In his keynote address, Ditri said that although the Italian gold and jewellery sector had recorded a 27 percent increase in exports in 2010, the figure was misleading.
“We all know that these figures were influenced by increases in the prices of raw materials, while actual cases of corporate success are somewhat spotty,” he said
“So rather than wait for better times on traditional markets, let’s look towards other markets in new countries.
“These countries have emerged, and are not emerging as some insist on defining them, with middle and upper-middle classes taking shape …
“These markets are already well-aware of exclusiveness, of beauty, of jewellery ‘Made in Italy’ and they are to be cultivated for the opportunities they can offer.
“First of all is the daunting yet desirable China. In the same geographic area, another country, India, is following in China’s footsteps, and is already the leading market for gold and jewellery.
“Even Brazil, South America, and many African nations have economies undergoing strong development and, for all these emerged or emerging countries, 2010 will be remembered as an extraordinarily positive year.”
Apart from voicing the industry’s concerns about its lacklustre performance in such “emerged or emerging countries”, Ditri also officially launched the ‘Fiera Di Vicenza FDV 2011-15 Project’ at the Fair to promote ‘Made in Italy’ internationally.
He said the project, which was expected to cost around €29 million, would include the construction of major new infrastructure such as a 15,000 square-metre pavilion with annexed car park as well as “the renovation and requalification of existing areas with a view to improving access, reception, services, and the functionality of the exhibition spaces”.
In addition, the project would feature several significant organisational changes including the launch of the Vicenzaoro Italian Club “to organise, promote, and facilitate business in new countries” and the use of the Facebook and the internet to keep the industry “informed about trends”.
“We intend to develop a new roadmap, a new concept of a fair, transforming it from ‘container’ to ‘content’− a fair that nurtures exchange, projects and know-how, to promote excellence on a global level.
“We need to connect with India and China.”
Ditri said Fiera Di Vicenza, which had already implemented some changes (like the new West Entry structure for the Gold Expressions 2011 collection, the new connections between pavilions, and the opening of the Vicenzaoro Restaurant and Lounge on the fifth floor of Pavilion A) at this year’s event, will start building the new venues later this year.
He concluded that this year’s Fair, which attracted 1460 exhibitors (1047 from Italy and 413 from overseas), signifies the beginning of a new era in the promotion of ‘Made in Italy’.
“There were 19,000 first-time admissions with an eight percent increase in foreign operators over the 2010 edition,” he said.
“Above all, there was an increase in foreign buyers, in quantity and quality.
“The delegations of buyers at Vicenzaoro First arrived from Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Brazil, China, India, England, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Morocco, Russia, the UAE, Ukraine, Hungary, and the USA.
“We kept our promise to our exhibitors – the opportunity for Italian companies to meet foreign markets and exhibit their products in the most highly qualified international sector showcase where ‘Made in Italy’ can take advantage of all the possibilities offered.”
“Internationality is the key word in the global challenge. Fiera di Vicenza must be a contact mediator, expert in markets and a cultivator of business relations.
“In this way we conceived of the Fiera di Vicenza development plan and with Vicenzaoro we have laid the foundation for what will be our future as a world leader in the gold and jewellery sector.
“The numbers prove we were right.
“’Made in Italy’ represents not 150, but thousands of years of culture, and is a unique synthesis of tradition, craftsmanship, creativity, innovation and know-how of a long-standing production system that has always kept abreast of technological and market changes,” he said.
“During these days of Vicenzaoro First, Vicenza is the hub of this system. Vicenza is the historic emblem and the DNA of the Italian supply chain of gold and jewellery, the utmost expression of ‘Made in Italy’.
“The future is knocking on our door and we are ready to open it.”