CARAT+ 2018 turnout “comfortably up” from last year
By David Brough
May 9, 2018 – Visitor numbers to the second edition of Antwerp diamonds fair CARAT+ were comfortably up from last year and well above expectations for the second edition of the event, organisers said.
“I think we achieved a number of big objectives for the second edition – to further the idea of CARAT+ as the central event in shaping the diamond business,” said Filip Van Laere, Event Director of CARAT+, which took place from May 6-8.
CARAT+ plans to build up its colour gemstone section and expand its conference programme with an innovative format at the third edition next year, he added.
Among the displays of exceptional diamonds from leading suppliers, the appearance of model and businesswoman Elizabeth Hurley to cut the ceremonial ribbon, and the participation of Bentleys and Porsches, underscored the luxury associated with diamonds.
Lindsey Straughton, industry ambassador of the UK’s National Association of Jewellers (NAJ), commented on the symbols of high end luxury and glamour at the show.
“With the appearance of Liz Hurley, as well as having Bentleys and Porsches co-sponsoring the event, and classic cars driving through the show with models onboard wearing amazing pieces, CARAT+ is bringing glamour to the high end of the luxury diamond industry,” she said.
Some extraordinary diamonds were on display, including the Bentley Diamond, a 29.64-carat stone presented by Pluczenik Diamonds that offers a Bentley Continental Convertible within the sale price. The car was on show at the entrance to the Antwerp Expo.
The D-colour VVS1 Type IIA Bentley Diamond, which is GIA certified, was on sale for US $4.5 million.
“Pluczenik is a world-famous diamantaire and we are collaborating with Bentley to give the best of both worlds to our customers,” said Pluczenik Global Marketing Director, Derek R. Palmer.
Founded in 1948 in South Africa, Pluczenik has grown to become a leading supplier of fine diamonds, especially large sizes, fancy-cuts, fancy-colours and shapes.
Richdiam showcased two yellow diamonds weighing 12.68 and 7.09 carats.
Kapu Gems presented a 50-carat white diamond on its stand.
CARAT+ has become the only annual diamonds trade fair located in Antwerp, which is widely regarded as the capital of diamonds, with a big share of the world’s rough diamonds passing through the city before being cut and polished into the final product.
Billed as the world’s premier diamond event, CARAT+ is a trade fair for loose diamonds, diamond jewellery and coloured gemstones that aims to be the main focal point for industry participants from around the world.
Footfall was up compared to the first edition last year, with around 2,400 visitors on the first day alone, auguring for a healthy flow of orders and a useful networking opportunity leading to new business.
The mood of exhibitors was upbeat as the show wrapped up.
“The show was grander and it was full with very good local suppliers,” said Nilufer Kizilkaya, Creative Director of GFG Jewellery by Nilufer, an invited buyer who returned to the event for a second year.
Meg Rome of Pure Brilliant Diamonds, a diamond dealer based near Glasgow, said she was impressed by the high end gems at the show.
“CARAT+ offers a top-of-the-range display of diamonds, including a great variety of cuts and bigger stones,” she said.
Some exhibitors said privately that demand was moderate as some buyers had stocked up earlier in the year.
CARAT+ staged a series of seminars featuring leading industry speakers addressing topical issues.
“The technology on show and the seminars are excellent,” the NAJ’s Straughton said.
The wide variety of seminar themes was a strength of the show, Van Laere said.
“I am extremely proud that we got so many exciting speakers to CARAT+, all of whom made very interesting contributions to the show,” he said.
On the first day, Jonathan Chippindale, chief executive of London-based Holition, outlined how advances in creative technology, such as augmented reality, will shake up marketing of luxury goods in the years ahead.
He said we are entering the fourth industrial revolution, merging virtual and physical technologies.
On the second day, Edward Johnson of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), spoke of the challenges of bringing coloured stones and silver into its codes of practice, and said global membership of the RJC had grown above 1,000.
“We need more miners, and we need more retailers,” he said, alluding to hopes to boost RJC membership tenfold in the years ahead.
Avi Krawitz, senior analyst with Rapaport, gave a seminar about diamond markets, noting that the global financial crisis, the emergence of Millennials, tech innovation, marketing shifts, and ethical issues, had influenced diamond prices over the past decade.
He predicted continuing increases in rough diamond prices driven by rising demand and tight supplies, which will create new challenges for manufacturers.
Tom Moses, executive vice president of the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), outlined some exceptional diamonds that the U.S.-based lab and certifying group had graded, and spoke of the latest technologies used in detection of synthetic diamonds.
CARAT+ exhibitors showcased the latest technologies used to detect synthetics, such as De Beers’ IIDGR (International Institute of Diamond Grading and Research) which can detect synthetic diamonds in all sizes in melee.
HRD Antwerp’s chief diamond lab officer Ans Anthonis gave a well-attended seminar on the third and final day of CARAT+ outlining the history of their equipment used to detect synthetic diamonds, and presented their latest M-SCREEN+ and D-Tect screening equipment, which uses a different methodology to the IIDGR machinery.