Made in Italy

The Vicenzaoro Choice Fair in Italy offered jewellery buyers a huge variety of choice but one trend was highly evident – as the price of…
The Vicenzaoro Choice Fair in Italy offered jewellery buyers a huge variety of choice but one trend was highly evident – as the price of gold continues to rise the weight of gold in jewellery continues to fall.
Vicenzaoro Choice, one of three international gold and jewellery fairs held in Italy’s gold and jewellery capital, Vicenza, each year, enjoyed the first signs of recovery from the GFC with a 28 percent increase in buyers over last year’s September fair.
According to fair organisers, the fair attracted 13,670 buyers 9413 Italians and 4257 from abroad.
Fiera di Vicenz general manager Domenico Girardi said buyer numbers hinted at a “reawakening of the sector” although it would be necessary to wait for results of the group’s January Fair, Vicenzaoro First, to confirm such a trend.
“We are satisfied with the result,” he said.
“The figure (buyer numbers) should be analysed in depth, bearing in mind that the operators at the autumn fair traditionally come from Italy, in particular, and Europe in general – these are the markets that order quantities ahead of the end-of-year festivities.”
The European countries which recorded the biggest increases in visitor numbers from 2008 to 2009 were France (43 percent), Germany (9.74 percent) and Spain (7.4 percent).
Girardi said the GFC’s impact on the jewellery industry had led the fair to focus specifically on the retailing sector.
“That is why we insisted at this show – with workshops and seminars – on the theme of the sales outlet and of the evolution of retailing and consumption models.”
Meanwhile in a speech at the Fair, Vicenza Fair president Dino Menarin noted that Italian jewellery manufacturers were adapting to the economic downturn by “re-focusing their marketing, moving brands upmarket in some cases, and adapting designs to meet the mood of the times”.

“In recent times we have started to see some weak signals of recovery in foreign demand,” Menarin said while expressing concern over the recent surge in the gold price.

“Certainly, fluctuations in the price of gold do not help, linked to speculative movements that have little to do with the real market,” he said.

“These are situations that introduce new elements of uncertainty to a scenario that is already not good.”

Menarin said the GFC had dragged heavily on gold demand for jewellery with World Gold Council figures showing that in the first half of 2009 gold demand for jewellery fell 25 percent year-on-year from 1136 tonnes to 852 tonnes.
More optimistically, he said there was not just one solution for jewellers in the economic crisis, but many including adapting jewellery designs to meet new consumer demands.

Indeed, the accuracy of Menarin’s comments about the need for designers to change designs to cope with the GFC’s impact on consumer buying habits was evident in many of the jewellery pieces on display at Choice.

There were of course many big, bold gold pieces bedecked with extravagant stones but many jewellers were clearly ‘downsizing’ their pieces to meet current market conditions with designs that achieved maximum impact with less precious metals and stones.
For example, cut-out metal, wire work, hollow metal, open mesh and large delicate chain links were popular methods used to make gold go further while the use of cheaper metals and stones as well as not-so-precious materials like enamel, silk and cord helped create pieces big on style without the accompanying price tags.
The next international gold and jewellery fair in Vicenza, Vicenzaoro First, will be held from 16-21 January 2010.
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