COMMENTARY – Visitor numbers up at VicenzaOro September; surging gold complicates exports
By David Brough
VICENZA, Italy, September 2019 – International visitor numbers were up at the September 7-11 VicenzaOro gold jewellery fair, auguring for healthy orders for the Christmas retail season.
Italian jewellers were defiant that they would not lower quality standards in the face of soaring gold prices, which have traded this year at more than six-year highs.
Roberto Coin, owner of the eponymous Italian fine diamond jewellery brand, said he would never surrender quality.
“I have seen these cycles before. We have to maintain the high standards of our production,” he told Jewellery Outlook.
Coin said he was more concerned over the impact that the U.S.-China trade war might have on the global economy and on demand for his diamond jewellery.
Italy, Europe’s leading exporter of gold and silver jewellery, is renowned for its highly skilled goldsmiths, with the main producing hubs located in Vicenza, Valenza and Arezzo.
Journalists visited the state-of-the-art gold jewellery factories of Nanis and Fratelli Bovo in Trissino near Vicenza on the eve of the fair, where they saw strict quality controls in place.
In the face of high gold prices, Italian jewellery designers are expected to create lighter weight pieces.
“The biggest problem is the continuous volatility in gold prices, which creates uncertainty. Consequently this increase in prices has blocked orders and creates big problems in production,” said Ivana Ciabatti, president of Italian goldsmiths’ group Confindustria Federorafi.
Goldsmiths needed to be more creative in designs and to develop communications and marketing, she added.
Italian gold and gold jewellery exports were up 3 percent year-on-year to 1.3 billion euros in the first quarter of 2019, according to state agency Istat.
The rise in exports in value terms was a reflection of the increased gold price, while the volume of orders had dipped, Ciabatti said.
Booths were packed at the show and the mood was upbeat as retailers from around the world gathered to order the latest jewellery and watch collections for the Christmas season.
British designer brand Stephen Webster exhibited at VicenzaOro for the first time.
“Vicenza is a global show. The Italians have done a great job to reach out to the global market,” Webster told Jewellery Outlook in an interview in London before the show.
Stephen Webster presented three collections at VicenzaOro: Vertigo, Astro Balls, and his Men’s line.
Vertigo pieces are crafted to create an illusion, while Astro Balls are charms celebrating the 13 Zodiac signs, blending intricately carved gold and luscious pearls.
The Men’s line highlighted Webster’s focus on masculine jewellery which he sees as mainstream.
“We now feel that gold jewellery for young guys is massive,” he said.
Near the Stephen Webster booth at Vicenza, award-winning London-based designer Tomasz Donocik revealed his latest pieces in the Design Room, alongside established names such as Lydia Courteille and Alessio Boschi.
Courteille, who has a boutique in central Paris near Place Vendome, presented new pieces from her “La Vie en Rose” collection.
Italian brand Picchiotti showcased expandable bracelets and rings featuring exquisite natural color gemstones; a bracelet set with unheated pigeon blood Mozambican rubies, and a necklace incorporating Sri Lankan (Ceylon) sapphires and white diamonds.
Yoko London unveiled a variety of carefully curated pearl jewellery collections and their “Waterfall necklace” featuring white pearls and diamonds.
The Yoko London booth was constantly busy, underscoring a revival in tastes for pearl jewellery.
LAUNCH OF TREND BOOK 2021+
The Trend Book 2021+, published by VicenzaOro, was launched at the show with jewellery analyst Paola De Luca, who coordinated the book, talking of increased use of titanium in designs and more focus on lab-grown diamonds.
A discussion panel introducing the Trend Book was divided on the issue of lab-grown diamonds, with some acknowledging that demand will grow, while others resisted them, saying claims of sustainability of lab- created diamonds were exaggerated.
XDiamond, a supplier of lab-grown diamond jewellery, with design and production 100 percent “Made in Italy”, exhibited at VicenzaOro for the first time.
The Trend Book 2021+ outlined jewellery design trends such as tastes for “extreme craftsmanship”; a heightened appreciation of “authorship” — telling a story that resonates with consumers; and a reinterpretation of distinctive elements from classical culture.