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Dazzling designs in Venice and Vicenza

Dazzling designs in Venice and Vicenza

19 December 2013

By Cynthia Unninayar

A World Heritage Site renowned for its beauty, architecture, and art, Venice was the perfect setting to host the prestigious by-invitation-only event, About J, last September. Following this elite exhibition was VicenzaOro Fall, the second in the city’s trilogy of trade fairs, which took place in an atmosphere of cautious optimism.

Brooch by Picchiotti & Ring by Roberto Coin.
Brooch by Picchiotti & Ring by Roberto Coin.

Venice’s luxurious Hilton Molino Stucky—a neo-gothic palace built at the end of the 19th century and located on the western side of Giudecca Island—served as the venue for this year’s About J, organized by the Fiera di Vicenza. The exclusive by-invitationonly event attracted some 200 highend retailers from 39 countries who came to see the products of 34 luxury Italian and international brands.

Rings by Marco Valente (About J)
Rings by Marco Valente (About J)

Reactions to About J

Among the exhibitors at About J was Marco Valente, president of the eponymous Italian brand whose cleverly designed and adjustable rings generated a lot of interest from buyers:

Tassel pendant by Mariani (About J)
Tassel pendant by Mariani (About J)

“This is our first time at About J and we are having an excellent show.” Similar sentiments were echoed by another Italian designer, Federico Mariani whose trendy tassel jewellery did not go unnoticed: “We joined About J for the first time, and the show has been very good.” Strong interest was also reported by Ricardo Vianna, president of Vianna Brasil, one of two Brazilian brands that also attended the event last year: “We are delighted with the show, its setting, and the quality of the buyers.” The other Brazilian brand, Brumani, also enjoyed a good show. Its creative director, Eduardo Bruner, stated, “About J is an exciting show with a nice environment. Attendees were serious in doing business and finding new designers. We met old clients and opened some new accounts.”

Earrings by SHO (About J)
Earrings by SHO (About J)

First-time exhibitor Sarah Ho, of London-based SHO Jewellery also expressed her satisfaction with the show and the quality of buyers, while About J veteran, British designer Rodney Rayner, added, “The show has a great environment, qualified buyers, and has always been good for us.”

Jewellery crafted by Kara Ross (About J)
Jewellery crafted by Kara Ross (About J)

Anna Gaia of Italian brand Utopia concurred with this general sentiment., adding, “About J is a great vehicle for making contacts. It is not a common type of show in Europe, and could be expanded to other locations.” Utopia’s U.S. representative, Manuel Martin, agreed, “About J is a very valuable show because it gives brands and buyers the opportunity of meeting in an informal social setting.”

From a buyer’s point of view, the show was also worthwhile as Jannie Iwema of Bonebakker Jeweliers in Amsterdam stated: “This is my second year at About J and again, it was a very good show. I found many interesting designers.”

Ring by Stephen Webster & Earrings by Brusi (About J)
Ring by Stephen Webster & Earrings by Brusi (About J)

Second-time attendee to the event, Camilo Lievano, of Bogota-based Lievano, echoed these comments: “I found About J to be a really good show this year, as it was last year. I always find something new.”

Lisa Glynn of Pennsylvania-base Diane Glynn Distinctive Jewelry, commented: “About J has been a really good—and enjoyable—show, with lots of new creations.” First time attendee, Adriana Cauduro of Brazilbased Adriana Cauduro Joalheira, explained: “This is my first About J and I can honestly say that the whole environment is excellent. I appreciate the show a lot.” Another first-timer to the event was Irina Metikhova, of Kazakhstan-based Arezzo Jewellery Boutique: “I found About J to be so very interesting with so many good designers. The only problem was that the time was too short.”

Necklace by Oromalia & Charm by Rosato
Necklace by Oromalia & Charm by Rosato

On to VicenzaOro Fall

Held immediately after About J, VicenzaOro’s 1200 exhibitors from 30 countries welcomed more than 18,000 buyers, including 7,160 overseas visitors from 111 nations, notably the Euro Zone, Central and Eastern Europe, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, North America, and Asia, especially China. According to fair officials, the “return” of many Italian retailers was an encouraging sign, perhaps signalling “the much-desired end of the most critical phase of the recession.” They went on to add, “For the first time, after two years of negative signals, the second quarter of 2013 showed a positive result for Italian jewellery exports (ISTAT data) that have grown in terms of both value (+6%) and volume (+2.6%) over the same period last year. Particularly significant is the growth in exports to the United States (+12% in value) and to the UAE (+32% in value).”

Ring by Sanalitro
Ring by Sanalitro

The Fiera di Vicenza, organizer of About J and the trilogy of VicenzaOro fairs, continues its efforts to help the Italian jewellery industry by strengthening its network of international partnerships. Among them are: an agreement with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in view of increasing the Italian presence at the March 2014 edition of the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show; a new partnership with the Armenian Jewellery Association, which owns the leading international jewellery exhibition in Armenia; and the participation of VicenzaOro and T-Gold International in Dubai International Jewellery Week, seen as particularly important since the UAE is the second largest export market for Italian jewellery.

Regarding reactions to the Fiera di Vicenza’s activities in promoting the sector, its president, Paolo Mantovani commented, “In this period, I have noted the satisfaction of a large part of the exhibitors regarding the good spirit in the business. The buyers who came to VicenzaOro were motivated and pragmatic, and I am convinced that the range they found lived up to their expectations. Now we must concentrate on the next dates, refining our organization and our services to make them increasingly orientated towards customer satisfaction.” The reaction of a retailer from Canada, Anita Malbranck of the Diamond Gallery, regarding the range of products, echoed Montovani’s comments: “This is my first time at VicenzaOro and I find the selection of jewellery to be almost overwhelming. It is very fashion- forward and unique, with pieces that will appeal to my clients.” Peter Stravrianidis of New Jersey-based Venus Jewelers, was also a first-time visitor and agreed that “VicenzaOro is an excellent show for his needs.”

Bracelet by Vendorafa
Bracelet by Vendorafa

Among the other activities sponsored by the Fiera di Vicenza was a preview of the TrendBook 2015+ by Paola DeLuca, creative director of Trend- Vision, the fair’s independent research centre. She presented an overall view of the global jewellery market, indicating that the U.S. market has matured but remains strong, while Europe is weakening, and then added that Asian markets continue to drive global sales. DeLuca went on to discuss five types of consumers and products that reflect these types based on her research. In terms of Italian design, a wide range was present at VicenzaOro and about J, as it is every year.

Changes for 2014

Three years ago, the Fiera di Vicenza embarked upon an ambitious €32 million program to update the fair and its venue. “By 2014, our structure will be completely updated,” said Montavani. “The project is in an advanced stage of execution and includes a new pavilion, space and equipment redevelopment of the Congress Centre, a comprehensive reassessment of layout, logistics support, and services (specifically, food services), a reorganization of access routes, and a new 600-space parking lot.”

Rings by Zancan
Rings by Zancan

One of the more prominent changes will be the creation of “The Boutique Show.” Mantonvani explained that this special section is “part of an effort to reorganize the flow of merchandise and visitors. The Boutique will incorporate Concept Store proposals to offer exhibiting companies integrated exhibition options, as well as set-up, assembly, disassembly, and storage solutions.

Other events planned for 2014 are a “Speed Greet” area, dedicated to fostering networking among selected exhibitors and worldwide retailers and buyers, and the inauguration of the “Museo del Gioiello” in the centre of Vicenza that will host cultural events, workshops, and other activities. VicenzaOro Winter 2014 will be held January 18-23; Spring 2014 from May 10 to 13; and Fall 2014 from September 6 to 10.

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