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Vicenza Fair sees recovery signs, warns over high gold price
By Tom Wildhern

VICENZA, Italy, September 13, 2009 - The Vicenza Fair, one of the world's leading gold and silver jewellery trade fairs, sees weak signals of recovery in international demand but the soaring price of gold is creating new challenges for the Italian export sector.
Vicenza Oro Choice 2009
Fiera di Vicenza

Dino Menarin, President of the Vicenza Fair, said in his opening speech at the September 12-16 "Choice" edition 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.

But he expressed concerns over the impact on jewellery demand of the recent surge in the gold price to around $1,000 an ounce.

"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 quoted figures from the World Gold Council showing that in the first half of 2009, the global economic downturn dragged heavily on demand for gold for jewellery, which fell 25 percent year-on-year to 852 tonnes, from 1,136 tonnes in the first six months of 2008. China remains the main bright spot.

VicenzaOro Choice 2009
Fiera di Vicenza
"China is among the few countries that have shown an increase (in gold demand), equal to 3 percent, confirming itself as the market least touched by the global crisis," Menarin said.

He said there was not just one solution to the economic crisis, but many ways to counter it.

"There are companies that have decided to favour the top end," he said. The top tier of the jewellery market has proven to be more resilient than lower market segments internationally, jewellers say.

The soaring price of gold has heightened interest in high-quality silver jewellery as an alternative to gold, with demand for 9-carat gold jewellery struggling in the present climate.

Italian brand Chimento is introducing a new range of silver jewellery. In London, Danish jeweller Pandora recently announced the launch of its first sterling silver collection, the Liquid range, inspired by the flowing movement of water and architectural lines.

Vicenza Oro Choice 2009
Fiera di Vicenza
According to the latest figures from Italian statistics agency ISTAT, the top market for Italian gold and precious jewellery exports is the United Arab Emirates, accounting for 180.2 million euros in the first four months (January to April) of 2009, down 11.9 percent year-on-year.

The number 2 foreign market in the same period was Swizerland, which acquired 142.8 million euros of Italian jewellery exports, down 22.8 percent year-on-year.The United States, which had been the leading market for Italian jewellery exports, has now slipped to third place, acquiring 104.1 million euros of Italian jewellery exports, down 38.1 percent year-on-year.

The Vicenza Fair is promoting new initiatives at Choice to showcase Italian design skills and innovation, including perpetuating the Glamroom which is dedicated to fashion jewellery and new trends.

The "Design Time" exhibition promotes, in collaboration with the Gold Jewellery Designers Association, the opportunity to understand how trends and the tastes of the general public evolve, Menarin said.



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