A Vicenzaoro snapshot

May 2024

A Vicenzaoro snapshot

For its 70th birthday, the VicenzaOro show in January 2024 exceeded all the most optimistic expectations. We sat down with Marco Carniello, Chief Business Officer Jewellery & Fashion of IEG (Italian Exhibition Group), and took a closer look at five Italian brands.


talian Exhibition Group’s boutique show concluded with a 3% increase in attendance, surpassing last January’s record edition. This year, six out of ten visitors came from abroad. Clearly, the global jewellery industry has decided: Vicenza is rapidly emerging as one of the most important jewellery hubs in Europe and worldwide. Foreign attendees hailed from 141 countries around the world, up from 136 in 2023. Europe accounted for 53%, the Middle East 9.3%, Asia 10.5%, Turkey 8%, North America 7.2%, Latin America 5.1% and Africa 4.9%.

In response to this success and in anticipation of continued growth, IEG is undertaking the construction of a new 22,000-square-metre hall.

During the show, we had the opportunity to exchange a few words with Marco Carniello, the Global Exhibition Director for Jewellery & Fashion at Italian Exhibition Group.

Europa Star Jewellery: What is Vicenzaoro’s winning formula?

Marco Carniello: Born in 1954 in the heart of the major European gold manufacturing city of Vicenza, Vicenzaoro boasts a rich history, deeply rooted in the “Made in Italy” ethos. As a result of the dedication of numerous “golden teams” over the decades, it stands today as the longest-running event in the sector, and a pioneer of forecasting trends, fostering creativity and setting the bar for exhibition excellence. It encapsulates the legacy of goldsmithing and jewellery manufacturing for the industry worldwide.

Marco Carniello, Chief Business Officer Jewellery & Fashion of IEG
Marco Carniello, Chief Business Officer Jewellery & Fashion of IEG

The jewellery industry requires an international platform, and Vicenzaoro has emerged as a global community catalyst, thanks to a growth strategy anchored around four pillars: business opportunities, training, information and networking. Its unique approach is encapsulated in its “Jewellery Boutique Show” format, which emphasises careful selection and quality offerings all along the supply chain, along with precise business matching and prestigious speakers. It also acts as a leading showcase for new technology and machinery through T.GOLD, a January innovation showcase.

Our approach involves continuous innovation, ongoing improvement to our services and open dialogue with all stakeholders. But if I had to pick just one factor in our success, it would be our ability to embrace change. This adaptability underpins our record results and our introduction of numerous new formats, including watchmaking events such as the launch of the B2B TIME community within Vicenzaoro in 2023, alongside B2C events like VO’Clock Privé for contemporary watchmaking (the third edition is scheduled for next September) and VO Vintage for vintage watches and jewellery (sixth edition January 2025). These events are designed with a strong experiential focus on watchmaking culture, reflecting our commitment to stay abreast of industry trends and our dedication to meeting the diverse needs of stakeholders, ensuring we remain at the forefront of industry developments.

Based on your plans for expansion, what role will Vicenzaoro play in the global landscape of international fairs, and what will be the focus of the expansion?

In February we kicked off a major makeover of our Vicenza exhibition centre. Led by Studio GMP from Hamburg, the project involves demolishing the old halls 2 (the ‘pyramid’) and 5 and replacing them with a massive new building, covering roughly 22,000 square metres on two floors. The entire investment of approximately €60 million will be funded by Italian Exhibition Group. Completion is scheduled for 2026.

This isn’t just about making the place bigger: T.GOLD [the international show for jewellery machinery] will have a prime spot in the main venue, and we plan to extend our offerings in ‘hotshot’ segments like watchmaking. We’re also improving the layout for better navigation. The modernisation efforts are aimed at creating a slick, modern vibe, dialling up the comfort with better climate control, snazzier interiors (including pavilion height, lighting and structural finishes), and improved facilities for all things expo-related.

This also includes facilitating easier setup and dismantling operations, promising a more streamlined and efficient experience for all involved. The ongoing construction work will be minimally disruptive to the coming editions of Vicenzaoro: we’re making sure our exhibitors and visitors will still get that top-notch business experience they’re used to.

We’re hearing a lot about “Made in Italy”. What advice would you give the next generation of entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs in the jewellery community continue to demonstrate their ability to interpret markets, and to be innovative, resilient and increasingly sustainable every day. Rather than offering advice, I would invite them to make the most of Vicenzaoro as a key tool in their marketing strategy, and maintain the open dialogue and constructive discussion that we have implemented over time, guiding every upgrade and evolution we have made to the show. Vicenzaoro, like all the IEG gold shows in Italy, Dubai and Singapore, is a business hub developed for them. It grows and evolves on the basis of their input and that of the market.

Italy exports more than 80% of its jewellery output. “Made in Italy” has always been synonymous with high-precision manufacturing and a strong sense of innovation, supported by the most avant-garde technologies and skilled craftsmanship. Italy is a very important jewellery manufacturing hub, as well as being the cradle of sophisticated design and innovation.

During our visit to Vicenzaoro we identified several Italian brands which for us embody the essence of Italian savoir-faire. Today they showcase refined techniques and specialities that are highly distinctive while being unmistakably Italian.

Seven generations, one passion

It all started with Giovanni Battista Gismondi, who had a workshop in Genoa. In 1763 he became the supplier to the renowned Doria family and Pope Pius VI. After being named one of the top five jewellers in his town, Giovanni Battista Gismondi decided one workshop was simply not enough. In 1880 he opened his first store under his own name in Via Galata, and began selling exclusive silverware as well as jewellery collections.

In 1995, after the company had been passed down through seven generations, Massimo Gismondi joined and started contributing to the family business. The company was restructured in 2011 and Massimo took the business in a new direction, leading to the opening of Gismondi 1754 boutiques in Portofino and St. Moritz, followed by the brand’s first Milan store and a shop-in-shop in another prestigious location: St. Bart’s. In 2023 Gismondi signed a partnership with Baglioni Hotels and opened a branch in the USA.

Vita Collection - white gold bracelet with diamonds and pear shaped tanzanite central stone
Vita Collection - white gold bracelet with diamonds and pear shaped tanzanite central stone

Massimo Gismondi has rooted the new direction of his company in the strength of its people, emphasising a culture based on a set of core values which guide every aspect of the company’s operations. The creation of a values charter marked a significant step towards achieving excellence, embedding respect, humility and gratitude as fundamental principles. These values not only shape the company’s vision and the behaviour of its employees but also Massimo’s professional ethos. The familial spirit among employees, driven by mutual respect, ethical standards and a passion for their work, epitomises the concept of family within Gismondi 1754.

Genesi, the Golden Ratio

Every piece begins as a thought, a memory or an emotion, serving as a conduit for Massimo’s creativity. The iconic Genesi collection from Gismondi 1754, drawing inspiration from the universal golden ratio identified by Leonardo Fibonacci, showcases this beautifully. Initially starting with a bangle, the collection has evolved to include various shapes, colours and price points, translating Gismondi’s emotional and creative journey into tangible jewellery pieces marked by vivid design, impeccable proportions, judicious use of asymmetry and exquisite craftsmanship.

While at Vicenzaoro we had the opportunity to examine the Vita necklace up close and learn about its inspiration from Massimo himself. This unique piece, centred around a 56.37-carat tanzanite, represents a drop of intense blue, seemingly suspended in mid-air, supported by a swirl of light and surrounded by diamonds. It is an ode to joy, celebrating the birth and future of Massimo’s son, reflecting the perpetual and vibrant essence of family life – la vita – a constantly evolving and precious gift.

Bringing this poetic vision to life in all its delicate beauty posed a significant technical challenge, one which the skilled artisans at Gismondi 1754 overcame after six months of perseverance and development.

Creating a Gismondi 1754 collection requires goldsmiths to possess a blend of sensitivity and creativity, crucial for aligning with Massimo Gismondi’s stylistic explorations. His work often features stones that appear to levitate, asymmetrical symmetry, and innovative settings, all reflecting his perpetual quest to “design emotions”.

Leading the way in flexible manufacturing

FOPE integrates renowned Italian goldsmithing techniques into their jewellery collections, building on a legacy of quality gold craftsmanship distinguished by innovation, creativity and savoir-faire since the company’s inception.

The aesthetic of FOPE jewellery is versatile, comfortable, genderless, minimalist and refined, focusing on gold components that convey a contemporary sense of elegance. This is jewellery designed to transcend trends, location and time, perfect for everyday wear.

Based in Vicenza, the historical manufacturing centre of Italian gold craftsmanship, FOPE was founded by Umberto Cazzola in 1929. Embracing the same innovative spirit, his son Odino later transformed the workshop into a state-of-the-art factory and invented adjustable metal watch bracelets.

The tradition continued with Odino’s nephew, Umberto, and his niece Ines, who introduced the iconic Novecento mesh and patented Flex’It technology. Today Giulia Cazzola, continuing her grandfather’s legacy, has propelled the company to international success. Currently listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, FOPE enjoys widespread recognition both in Italy and globally.

“Let’s forget about monotony!”

FOPE’s collections are designed by Claudia Piaserico, with whom we enjoyed a brief chat at the fair. We asked her about the inspiration for her seasonal collections. For Claudia, creativity is an innate strength that exists in all of us, a spark that ignites our ability to imagine and invent something new. Her design process begins with careful observation, blending the historical essence and iconic styles for which FOPE is known. The Novecento chain, for instance, is a distinctive stylistic element that serves as a foundation for her to develop a series of interconnected ideas.

Claudia views designing a new collection as an exhilarating journey, building a bridge from the familiar to the unknown, with originality the final destination. “I get inspired by observing what is missing on the market place, a colour, a shape…. and my creativity always shows up when I leave the comfort of habit and start exploring new horizons. It’s an act of freedom, the ability to look beyond the status quo and give life to something unique.”

Bubble Collection: rose gold ring with blue and red sapphires
Bubble Collection: rose gold ring with blue and red sapphires

In her view, creativity is a source of freedom of expression, a land without borders where conventional rules can be challenged and overcome. It’s a journey of the mind, a way to discover unexpected solutions and create shapes of extraordinary beauty that eschew monotony and embrace diversity. Her motto is “Let’s forget about monotony!”

All FOPE jewellery is designed and manufactured in the Vicenza factory, where technicians work side by side with master goldsmiths. Automated machinery and robotics are also part of the supply chain dynamics, optimising time and resources to achieve the highest possible quality. Novecento Mesh, launched in 1980, is one of Fope’s most influential innovations. Gold components are ingeniously woven together, creating a mesh that is so versatile it can inspire multiple variations in terms of size, wearability and design. The patented Flex’It system, where microscopic 18-karat gold springs are inserted into the gold mesh to make it more flexible, is another signature innovation.

Interestingly, Umberto Cazzola still has a desk at the factory alongside his skilled artisans, as a constant celebration of their incredible manufacturing tradition.

A family affair

The Picchiotti brand was founded in Valenza in 1967. Its founder, Giuseppe, was inspired by his desire to create exclusive, bespoke fine jewellery. Today, after more than five decades, the brand has gained an international reputation for craftsmanship, excellence and artistry.

Internationally, Picchiotti stands for exquisite jewellery design with a twist, making their collections versatile, easy to wear and, above all, contemporary.

Giuseppe, the founder, didn’t want to follow the accepted family path to become a pharmacist. He broke with tradition and went against his family’s wishes. His first apprenticeship was in a small workshop in Valenza where he was surrounded by some of the foremost jewellery artists of the time. He completed his high school education, obtaining the knowledge and training necessary to start his own workshop.

Giuseppe went into business with his sister, Annamaria, who was, and still is, responsible for managing all administrative areas of the business. This partnership allowed Giuseppe to concentrate on his passions: design and gemstones. Travelling the world in search of stones worthy of his designs has made him a true connoisseur, and even today, working with coloured stones is his labour of love and guiding passion.

Masterpieces Rubies Collection: an assortment of diamonds in various shapes and shades artfully combined with pear-shape rubies, set in white gold
Masterpieces Rubies Collection: an assortment of diamonds in various shapes and shades artfully combined with pear-shape rubies, set in white gold

The company is now run by Giuseppe and seven family members, including his wife Matilde, daughter Maria Carola, his two sons Filippo and Umberto, his sister Annamaria and niece Francesca.

Each family member is responsible for a different area of the business and each of them plays an important role in the company’s success. Giuseppe confesses: “Since the very beginning I always liked the idea that one day I would surround myself with my children and relatives to help me with the business.”

The founder began a tradition of design expertise that has grown and evolved from generation to generation, based on the diligent pursuit of excellence in making fine jewellery, focused on designing distinctive and memorable collections and masterpieces.

As tangible evidence of this ongoing research, in September 2023 Picchiotti launched a new version of the Reversible XpandableTM Collection, showcasing a broad selection of 18K gold designs, both with and without coloured gemstones. This collection builds on the success of Xpandable technology, which enables bracelets and rings to expand and contract, and adds a versatile element of reversibility, creating two designs in one.

Jewellery for every day

When asked about the inspiration behind the Xpandable collection, Giuseppe said, “In over five decades of brilliance, one common complaint from the women I have met has been a reluctance to wear their fine jewellery every day, particularly diamonds, or a sense of limitation in terms of colour-coordinating coloured gemstones. I love the idea of technology that can solve problems! In the same way that we solved the problems of ring sizing and cumbersome bracelet clasps with our Xpandable technology, we have now tackled the issue of design versatility. Our new bracelets feature completely different designs – luxurious diamonds on one side and solid gold on the other, or sapphires on one side for wearing with cool hues and rubies on the other to wear with blacks, neutrals and warmer toned fabrics. We have only just begun! The entire design team is giddy with excitement. The possibilities for design combinations are endless.”

Mastery of hammered gold

Founded in Valenza in 1951, Vendorafa started as a jewellery manufacturer but quickly gained international acclaim for their signature technique of treating jewellery surfaces through hammering, engraving and embossing. This unique approach to creating texture with gold, playing with roughness, light and curves, has become Vendorafa’s stylistic hallmark, paired with Italian style, creativity and quality.

Vendorafa’s jewellery designs are sophisticated interpretations of basic shapes: organic figures, floral motifs and classic patterns, backed up by intuition and experience, research and creativity. Over the years, Vendorafa’s manufacturing skills have evolved alongside the latest technology, requiring constant innovation through the use of advanced machinery.

The shades of the desert

One of the most spectacular pieces is Ghibli, a jewellery set inspired by the light and shade created by desert sand as the wind blows across the dunes. It is like a poetic interpretation of a painting, which is further enhanced in the constantly changing light of every day.

Ghibli Collection - yellow gold hammered necklace with pavé in white diamonds
Ghibli Collection - yellow gold hammered necklace with pavé in white diamonds

With the aim of preserving the traditions of generations of Valenzan artisans, in 2023 Massimo Gismondi bought Vendorafa. This acquisition will extend the Gismondi Group’s capabilities globally in the area of gold-focused collections.

In the words of Daniela Lombardi, Vendorafa’s former owner, “With this acquisition, the Gismondi Group has built on the historic and intrinsic values of Vendorafa – Made in Italy quality – and has ensured a bright future for the three-generation family-run brand with collections known globally for unmistakable designs and extraordinary quality.”

Ruby signature

In 1996, for the first time in history, a jewellery collection was created with a signature small ruby set into every single piece. The name of this collection was “Appassionata”, and it is this unconventional signature, inspired by fairy tales, that marked the birth of the Roberto Coin brand. Since then the brand has grown under the guidance of its founder, Roberto Coin, a man of passion who enjoys creativity and life.

Each piece produced today is the result of an exciting journey through different cultures and their influences, natural beauty and landscapes – a perfect balance of past and future. Roberto Coin jewellery collections each tell a different story while embracing the brand’s well-known and unmistakable stylistic identity. The inexhaustible creativity behind these pieces is brought to life by the skilled work of Roberto’s artisans, who are dedicated to turning the founder’s ideas into beautiful jewellery. True to the brand’s tradition, each piece is marked with a small ruby, just as when the brand first started.

A Vicenzaoro snapshot

Not just a romantic symbol

A strong aesthetic and experimental design have made Roberto Coin’s collections unconventional examples of elegance and innovation, in just a few years positioning the brand as one of the most recognised and fascinating names on the international jewellery scene. A familiar sight on the red carpet, Roberto Coin jewellery collections are always a step ahead of the trend, often showcasing innovative manufacturing techniques.

Let’s hear what the founder has to say about his brand. “From the first steps I took in this incredible field, I’ve always wanted Roberto Coin to be an eccentric entity, with an unusual genesis, and utterly unlike anyone else in both personality and objective. Even the idea of the ruby has a dual significance – the romantic symbol is also a means of identifying the jewellery as belonging to our brand. The ruby is the anchor that visually ties all of my jewellery together, which also guarantees maximum aesthetic freedom. Brands tend to be iconic only when they are defined by a few recognisable designs. In my opinion, this means limiting creativity, which is the expression of freedom par excellence. Not being recognisable at first glance has given me the liberty to create, and to be, something innovative and unique. Through the tireless production of new designs, our mission is to create something that inspires, that surprises and that most of all… is never boring.”

Roberto Coin has always defined manufacturing as a work of balance. Alongside the technical savoir-faire there must be a thorough, personal dialogue with the skilled hands responsible for producing the finished piece. Every single day in his atelier, Roberto Coin continues the priceless work of perpetuating tradition while furthering technological development. For him, artisans are the keepers of ancient secrets, locked up in the deft and meticulous movements of their fingers. These gestures may look simple but they are complex and extremely precise. This is the only way the Made in Italy jewellery tradition will endure through the years.