VICENZA, Italy — In the European and American cultures green is known as the color of hope.
It might not be a coincidence that in the current social and economic international climate the vivid tone emerged as one of the most popular trends at the six-day VicenzaOro jewelry trade show, which closed here on Wednesday. This was the first edition developed by Italian Exhibition Group, the newly formed trade show operator born from the merging of Fiera di Vicenza and Rimini Fiera.
“Diamonds were the most popular stones with emeralds being popular along with green tourmaline. Green was the important stone color at the show,” said Eric Ford, buyer of precious designer jewelry at Neiman Marcus, affirming that the American department store’s customers continue investing in traditional jewelry pieces, such as diamond bracelets, the most requested products at the company’s stores.
Chrysoprase, emerald, jade and malachite were among the precious green gems, which shone at the exhibitors’ booths, including at Roberto Coin, which paired a range of rich, textured stones, such as malachite, with pink gold for the architectural pieces of the new Sauvage line.
According to Fiammetta de Simone, who manages the family’s business with her brothers Michele and Massimo, earrings, including those featured in the expanded Krim series with coral combined with colored gems, as well as diamonds, remain the best-performing category for the company. De Simone is also registering a comeback of sets.
“Especially international customers are more and more interested in buying sets and we developed new variations with versatile pieces you can transform,” she said, referring, for example, to an earring featuring a detachable pendant.
“Buyers are definitely interested in the highest segment of the offering, they want niche, exclusive things,” she said, revealing that the second day of the trade show an undisclosed client acquired the most prestigious one-of-a-kind necklace the company brought to Vicenza.
To meet the needs of these demanding and wealthy clients, Stefan Hefner debuted at VicenzaOro a limited-edition collection of one-of-a-kind pieces celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company. The collection, which includes a diamond and sapphire ring featuring movable micro flowers, as well as earrings crafted from rubies and diamonds combined to create a fabriclike surface, retails from 12,000 euros, or $12,825 at current exchange rate, to 70,000 euros, or $74,810.
“Compared to the September edition, we saw more international buyers this time,” said Antonini creative director Sergio Antonini, praising the trade show’s investments aimed at bringing prestigious retailers from different countries to Vicenza.
Milan-based Antonini presented at the fair its new “Atolli” collection featuring necklaces, rings, earrings and pendants in sinuous, minimal silhouettes inspired by the world of design and contemporary art. These are crafted from gold matched with jet, as well as diamond pavé settings, to create a charming combination of different surfaces. The collection retails from 1,400 euros, or $1,496, to 15,000 euros, or $16,031.
“The U.S. is the most important market for us despite a slowdown in the second semester of last year linked with the presidential elections,” said Antonini, revealing that although they didn’t attend VicenzaOro, Bergdorf Goodman buyers visited the company’s showroom on the last day of Milan Men’s Fashion Week to place an order.
While many American department stores skipped the fair this season, another relevant U.S. luxury retail player, Moda Operandi, attended VincenzaOro for the first time.
“This is definitely a successful trip,” said Deborah Nicodemus, Moda Operandi chief executive officer, who attended VicenzaOro with a big team to select 10 brands, whose collections, which were photographed at the fair, will be featured on the company’s online store from Feb. 3 to March 15. “There will be a mix of established labels and emerging designers,” revealed Nicodemus, who also said the selected jewelry pieces are part of an editorial photo shoot realized by the Moda Operandi team in Venice at the end of last week. This initiative will be promoted via a social media campaign.
Moda Operandi introduced fine jewelry two years ago offering a selection of products retailing from $10,000 to $80,000.
“This category is very successful, also considering that we don’t make discounts, and it was quite surprising to see that since the beginning we had no returns,” Nicodemus said.
Moda Operandi generates 65 percent of its business in the U.S. and the areas showing more growth are the northeast and southwest.
The online retail is also expanding its network of by-appointment showrooms. The two located in London and New York’s Madison Avenue will be joined by 15 additional locations by 2021. Along with three showrooms in the Middle East, as well as new ones in Honk Kong and Seoul, Moda Operandi is also eyeing spaces in Paris, California, Texas, Miami and Vancouver.
“I’m very satisfied with this edition. I personally visited many booths, and exhibitors said they worked very well during the fair,” said Italian Exhibition Group executive vice president Matteo Marzotto. “In 2015 we were courageous enough to radically change the trade show’s format by reorganizing everything and we are now taking advantage of this strategy.” According to Marzotto, the next step in the evolution of the VicenzaOro trade show will include the offering of specific services, from visual communication and logistics to exhibitors. “We have to become a full-service provider and we have to commercialize the VicenzaOro brand enabling the fair to be operative all year round,” he said.
According to Marzotto, in 2016 Italian Exhibition Group generated pro-forma revenues of 123 million euros, or $135.3 million at average exchange rate, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 22.9 million, or $25.19 million.