The GemGenève gem show

PARIS — GemGenève opened its second edition Thursday, a gathering of international gem dealers in Switzerland, with an increased number of exhibitors and a bulked-up program of talks and seminars.

Founded last year by industry veterans Thomas Faerber and Ronny Totah, who said they were spurred on by peers for the project, the show takes place at the Geneva exhibition center, Palexpo, also the site of the high-end watch trade show SIHH. The show brings together smaller gem dealers, tapping into some of the traffic heading to Sotheby’s and Christie’s gem auctions in the city — taking place just before the auctions, when people come to inspect what’s on offer.

Next year GemGenève will follow Baselworld, which has been rescheduled to take place just after SIHH — in coordination with that trade show’s shift from January to late April.

The Swiss watch trade shows have come under pressure from industrywide changes as brands shift their methods to digital means for reaching consumers and conducting business.

“We launched it because we wanted a change,” Faerber told WWD, explaining why he and Totah set up the new show.

“Something was missing in our market,” added Totah. “We thought two exhibitors could perhaps think of a new style of show, geared towards exhibitors and visitors rather than focused on show organizers themselves,” he added. The pair, who had shown at Baselworld in the past, noted that the show is geared to smaller players in the industry, small- and medium-size family firms like theirs.

“We said to ourselves, ‘We want to come out of the shadows a bit,’…to give a platform for stonecutters, people selling antique jewelry, houses making modern jewelry and new designers, young designers in a more relaxed setting, rather than a gigantic trade show,” remarked Faerber, noting that smaller players tend to get overshadowed by larger groups with stronger means of communication.

For this year’s edition, exhibit numbers increased to 210 from 147, hailing from over 20 countries.

The space for contemporary jewelers includes relative newcomers on the high jewelry scene including Tatiana Verstraeten, a Belgian designer based in Paris; Milio, a Russian label with a mother-daughter pair of designers, and Ming Lampson, a Hong Kong-born, London-based jeweler.

GemGenève organizers took to New York last month for a pre-show event featuring one of the stars of this year’s show, the Shirley Temple Blue Bird blue diamond. The 9.3-carat flawless blue diamond had been given to the child actress in the Forties.

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