VICENZA — “This can be considered a record edition,” proudly said Matteo Marzotto, executive vice president of Italian Exhibition Group, the organizer of jewelry trade show VicenzaOro, which closed here on Jan. 24. “The fair is sold out since October and in the first three days we registered an 11 percent increase in the number of buyers.”Highlighting Italian Exhibition Group’s efforts to make the trade show more international, Marzotto also added that the 54 percent of the buyers attending the trade show were coming from out of Italy. According to Marzotto, the most appealing countries for jewelry manufacturing are China, Indonesia, the U.S. and northern Europe.“I think we are actually seeing the fruits of the hard work of the past few years,” he said. “I think that the debut of the new exhibition format in 2015 was key to relaunch VicenzaOro and enabled both exhibitors and clients to work in a more welcoming and practical environment.”Positive results also came from the domestic market. Reflecting a positive trend, which saw the sales of watches and jewelry in Italy increasing 14 percent in the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, the number of Italian buyers attending VicenzaOro grew 10 percent compared to the September edition. “We started working on this edition about a year ago because we are conscious that 2018 is crucial for us,” said Italian Exhibition Group general director Corrado Facco, explaining that the company’s goal is to further elevate the strategic positioning of the trade show in the next few years. “We are assisting in the polarization of the fair system and our target, in five years, is to establish VicenzaOro as the key player in the worlds of luxury jewelry for Europe, Western Asia and the Middle East.”In order to reach the goal, Facco highlighted the importance of investigating the delivery of an omnichannel experience and to digitalize the trade show. Facco revealed that Italian Exhibition Group will invest between 35 million and 45 million euros in the Vicenza-based trade show. “The investments will be focused on infrastructures and communication,” he said, adding that the company is negotiating the acquisition of two firms operating in the digital realm.According to Facco, the creation of online platforms will be instrumental not only to boost communication activities but also to support the business of exhibitors, which will have the chance to make their sales online.“This is an ambitious project and we will see the first fruits in spring,” said Facco, adding that, in 2022, VicenzaOro will be expanded to include additional exhibition space.At the same time, Italian Exhibition Group is also investing in the Rimini-based trade shows. “We are actually investing 50 million euros,” said Facco, adding that the company has recently acquired a majority stake in an Italian firm that specializes in fair booth set-ups in the U.S.Italian Exhibition Group, which expects to close 2018 with revenues of 160 million euros, compared to 130 million euros in 2017, aims to go public this year.“The company is performing really well and I think that the listing would be a great opportunity [that] we shouldn’t miss,” Marzotto said. “We are actually able to finance and sustain our business plan. Becoming public will enable us to do more and better and at the same time the Bourse will give the company an extraordinary exposure and credibility.”Positive feedback about the trade show also came from exhibitors.“Considering the problems [that] Basilea is having, I think this is a great moment for VicenzaOro, a moment rich of opportunities,” said Fiammetta de Simone of the Torre del Greco-based De Simone coral specialist. “This is a high-end, well-executed trade show, which can definitely represent the best of the Italian lifestyle.”De Simone said this season she saw a robust presence of international buyers, especially from Europe and the U.S. “Nigerian clients are finally back after a few seasons,” she added, highlighting that the foreign markets are becoming more interested in coral jewelry. “They are finally recognizing coral as a signature element of Made in Italy and we are working hard to translate this antique artisanal tradition in creations with a contemporary appeal.”For example, De Simone is expanding its offering of jewelry pieces, including earrings combining coral with diamonds and precious gems, with detachable elements that allow women to wear them at different moments throughout the day.Versatility is also at the core of Mattioli’s signature “Puzzle” line, which features pink or white gold earrings, rings and pendants, all sold with a special packaging that includes a range of interchangeable colorful decors, crafted from mother-of-pearl, onyx and turquoise. The “Puzzle” line is the company’s bestseller and last year it also marked the debut of Mattioli’s online store, which from this year will offer a wider range of products.Expanding her online business is among the key goals of Italian emerging designer Bea Bongiasca, who made her debut at VicenzaOro with the “You’re so vine!” collection. An evolution of her “Floricultural line,” which is inspired by Hanakotoba, the Japanese form of the language of flowers, the new lineup includes gold and gem stone earrings, bracelets, rings and pendants featuring shapes inspired by the botanical world, which are wrapped with multicolored resins.A graduated of Central Saint Martins, Bongiasca launched her jewelry line in September 2014 with a presentation at 10 Corso Como in Milan. Infused with a playful touch, the brand, with prices ranging from 80 euros to 2,000 euros, is available at select stores worldwide, including LuisaViaRoma and Biffi, as well as at farfetch.com.“I definitely want to consolidate the Italian market because I think it's crucial to be established in your country, but at the same time, I’m working to expand my business in the world,” said Bongiasca, who is gearing up to host trunk shows in Dallas, Beverly Hills and San Francisco next month.The U.S. continue to be a key market for Milan-based jewelry label Antonini, which has been selling its collections at Bergdorf Goodman since the end of 2016.The company, which has recently opened a new showroom inside Palazzo Borromeo in Milan, unveiled at VicenzaOro its new “Etna” collection, featuring bracelets, rings, earrings and pendants, where gold is treated with rhodium to obtain a stone-inspired, textured finish.High-end craftsmanship also stood out at Roberto Coin, which has tapped Arizona Muse to appear in its new advertising campaign.Along with its flamboyant one-of-a-kind pieces, including the resin, gold and diamond bracelets dedicated to the Chinese Year of the Dog, the company presented the minimal “Classic Parisienne” line. This features graphic earrings, available in different sizes and shapes, such as rounds and ovals, embellished with discreet diamond details.
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