By Cynthia Unninayar
When the final results were tallied, there was good reason for cautious optimism at the September’s “Choice” event the third in the trilogy of jewellery trade shows held in the historic Italian town of Vicenza.
According to show management, the show’s final numbers exceeded all expectations during these difficult times for the Italian - and global-jewellery sector. The most positive sign was the 28 percent increase in buyers compared to the September 2008 event. The show registered an attendance of 9,413 from Italy and 4,257 from abroad, for a total of 13,670 buyers who came to see the products offered by some 1,400 exhibitors (75 percent Italian, 25 percent from around the world).
“We are satisfied with the result,” commented Domenico Girardi, the General Manager of Fiera di Vicenza, “bearing in mind that the buyers at the September fair traditionally come from Italy, in particular, and from Europe, in general. These are the markets that order quantities ahead of the end-of-year festivities. Compared with Choice 2008, the European nations with the highest number of buyers this year included Spain (an increase of 7.4 percent), France (up 43 percent) and Germany (up 9.74 percent). The Greek presence was also highly significant.” Girardi added that, for confirmation of the reawakening of the sector, it would be necessary to wait for the performance of Vicenzaoro First, which will begin on January 16, 2010.
With an emphasis on the Made in Italy label, Italian designers have been facing the challenges of the current economic downturn with determination, thanks to a wealth of new products, innovative marketing strategies, and new technologies. Yet, one of the main variables on which the sector’s performance depends is the price of gold. “In general, rather than the absolute value of the precious metal, it is its volatility that generates difficulty for production companies in managing their supplies and pricing,” explained Girardi.
|“Infinity Ribbon” earrings in pink gold, diamonds, and gemstones by Io Si & Gemstone and diamond “Ninfea” ring in pink gold by Favero.|
The price and volatility in gold prices has led to an increased number of lightweight designs. New technologies permit jewellers to create innovative hollow and wire pieces, while laser cutting offers solutions for innovative open work. In this way, a bigger but stylish look can be obtained for a smaller price. Another consequence of the volatile gold market is the use of mixed media combining, for example, wood, leather, bronze, and multi-coloured titanium with diamonds and coloured gemstones to create original and contemporary styles. Silver has regained its royal status and has been adopted by many upmarket brands, which are creating fashionable designer collections in the white metal.
|Silver bracelet by Nuovegioie.|
In terms of style, the brands at Choice exhibited many design directions. Necklaces tended to be long, loopy, and layered, with lots of links. Stackable bangles came in a variety of colours and designs, but wide airy cuffs were also present. A perennial favourite, the hoop earring was seen in its pure round form as well as in modifi ed shapes set with gemstones and diamonds. Also seen at this year’s Choice were the contrasts of sombre, less ostentatious pieces—recession oblige—with brighter more colourful pieces that symbolized renewed hope for the future. Jewellery featuring rough diamonds, textured designs, and organic and freeform shapes, as well as various uses of circles and ovals, were also in evidence. In terms of colour, many Italian designs incorporated gemstones, of all sorts and hues, into their creations, in gold, platinum, and silver. Quartz, citrine, amethyst, onyx, topaz, tourmaline, and agate were used in a wide variety of designs, while the more traditional emeralds, sapphires, and rubies were present in elegant and sophisticated models paired with the sparkle of white and fancy diamonds.
|Flex-It bracelets in gold and gemstones by Fope & “Royal Star” ruby earrings with diamonds, white gold, and a line of blackened rhodium by Picchiotti|
Gem World and Glamroom
For the fi rst time, the fair dedicated a special section to gemstones. Called “Gem World,” this new area, established in cooperation with Assogemme Association, grouped together a number of gem dealers from around Italy and the world who showcased a wide variety of colourful jewels. One of the star attractions was the special display of a large aluminium plate faced with quartzite, painted and decorated with a micro-mosaic of precious stones, which epitomized a marriage of jewellery and contemporary art. Organized by Italian gem dealer Cesari & Rinaldi, this work of art, entitled “Tondo Cesari 2009,” was crafted by Milanese artist Bruto Pomodoro. To create this jewellery art masterpiece, Pomodoro used a total of 2000 carats of gemstones. The stylized and colourful plate is valued at €400,000 (approximately $600,000).
|“Tondo Cesari 2009” plate with 2,000 carats of gemstones, crafted by Milanese artist Bruto Pomodoro|
This year, also for the fi rst time, Glamroom was held inside the main fair next to the prestigious Hall B1. Present were a number of local and foreign designers and artists who presented a wide range of innovative and colourful products made in a variety of materials. Among them was Italian designer, Raffaella Mannelli, with her collection of stunning pieces made of polished black ebony and gold, while, at the other end of the colour spectrum, German brand Bastian displayed a selection of modern silver creations. In keeping with the recent move towards sustainable and ecofriendly jewellery, a new Italian company, EcoJewel, showcased its pieces made from precious, recycled materials (gold and silver from old jewellery and manufacturing scraps) and Eco-Gems (synthetic products from Switzerland with the same physical and chemical characteristics as natural stones). The company says that its activities have Zero Impact® on the environment, certifi ed by LifeGate.
|Silver pendants by Glamroom exhibitor Bastian & Earrings made from recycled silver by EcoJewel|
During the Choice event, the Italian Association of the Chambers of Commerce (Assicor) presented a project called Gioiello Italiano, a strategic integrated communications plan to support and enhance the entire Italian jewellery industry. This important initiative has two s p e c i f i c objectives: 1) to present a coordinated image that will promote the values of Italian-made jewellery in foreign markets, and 2) to create and design new promotional tools in order to stimulate jewellery sales in the domestic market. The next fair, Vicenzaoro First, will start January 16, 2010 as the jewellery industry continues to look for positive signs.