Vicenza, Italy — Exhibitors and organizers of the Vicenzaoro jewelry trade show showed their commitment to a more sustainable industry, as they forecast a rise in sales for the full year. The “Green Jewellery” edition of the fair united industry leaders who were relatively unfazed by growing geopolitical tensions in key markets like South Korea and the effects of the rising euro and the prices of raw materials.
The five-day trade show that closed Sept. 27 saw a 20 percent increase in traffic to 23,176 visitors versus the September 2016 edition of the fair. The show hosted 1,300 brands coming from 36 foreign countries. The new calendar date was in line with the ready-to-wear shows, which also culminated in a tribute to sustainability with the “Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia,” an event organized by Livia Firth of Eco Age and Italy’s fashion chamber Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana. Firth has also played a crucial role in the jewelry industry by guiding brands like Chopard’s in their sustainable journey. Fruit of that collaboration was the landmark Chopard Green Carpet collection.
Matteo Marzotto, executive vice president of Italian Exhibition Group, a company formed by the integration between Rimini Fiera and Fiera di Vicenza, said sustainability has definitely improved the mood, amid political and market jitters. Marzotto sees a rise in production of Italian jewellery and watch makers for 2017. “Overall we expect a positive performance together with an improved psychological attitude,” Marzotto said in an interview, noting that transparency regarding traceability, quality of the materials and attention to eco-sustainability are deeply ingrained into companies’ strategies going forward.
Globally recognized names like Roberto Coin, Mattioli and Fope have been operating under an ethical aegis for years. Coin, for example, is on the board of directors of the World Diamond Council, which together with the United Nations has been fundamental in the creation of the Kimberley Process, a pact that involves all countries that produce diamonds, the United Nations and all non-governmental organizations to prevent the use and procurement of diamonds from conflicted areas.
“Our materials are traceable and certified. We guarantee that our diamonds are not from blood countries and our gold is certified by Swiss banks,” Giulia Cazzola, Fope’s marketing director said, adding that the company’s sales rose 15 percent in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier. Entry-price jewelry between 1,500 euros and 3,000 euros has been a main driver over the past year. “Revenues are growing a lot,” Cazzola added, noting that the company noticed a rise in the price of gold and offset rising raw material prices by hedging on gold earlier in the year.
Overall, companies were upbeat on the full year ahead. “Our 2017 earnings so far have marked real growth for our company,” said Licia Mattioli, ceo of Mattioli Gioielli, which is known for its colorful and iconic models like the “Lips” and “African Queen” rings. As a result of their fashion-forward designs, Mattioli cited buoyant sales abroad and in markets like Russia, the U.S. and Japan.
Despite recent threats from North Korea to attack key retail markets in the Pacific Rim, Damiani’s president Guido Damiani emphasized that Asia is still a dynamic market.
“The whole world is in a very unstable situation that has obviously a global echo. If China slows down, you feel it in Europe and vice versa,” Damiani said, noting that he expects sales to rise year-over-year.
Damiani is publicly listed on the Milan Stock Exchange and its collections are sold at more than 500 jewelry boutiques around the world. In addition to its own namesake label, the company has invested in jewelry firms Salvini, Rocca, Calderoni and Pomellato, which is now controlled by Kering.
Bros Manifatture, the Italian jewelry group that controls the Rosato, Brosway, S’Agape and Pianegonda, has heavily invested in the U.S. market with its new U.S. distribution arm Bros USA Inc., which is headquartered in Miami.
“We are on our way to participate in the Jewelers International Show in Miami,” said Lanfranco Beleggia, president of Bros Manifatture, singling out the U.S. and China as two markets where the company expects to invest.
In terms of trends, nature-inspired motifs like exotic flora and fauna continued to influence larger brands like Roberto Coin, while upscale and more modern coral also stood out among luxury coral specialists like De Simone, as well as smaller players who are targeting a younger demographic.
Eugenia Shekhtman of Belgian-based Anapsara, a brand inspired by the firefly and its metamorphism, was founded in Ibiza and works predominantly with white and pink gold, as well as coral and rare stones such as black diamonds for a more contemporary style.
“Coral can be very nice, but it needs to be cut in a more geometric way rather than round. Coral is interesting because it is a living thing,” Shekhtman said, noting that her bracelets and earrings currently sold on online realities like Farfetch run between 900 euros to 12,000 euros.
Affordable luxury collections and Millennial-geared brands embraced architectural designs and wanderlust themes.
Eden Diodati is a U.K.-based label that employs survivors of Rwandan genocide, some of whom have HIV contracted through gender-based violence. “We want to ensure that we are affordable so we can secure jobs for these women, who go home at the end of the day with a great sense of pride. Our margins are very low and our margins are the same as the cooperative we work with,” said designer Jennifer Ewah, who showcased Boho-chic, gold-plated pieces in various geometric shapes.
Elsewhere, watches also stood out. Vicenzaoro’s NOW “Not Ordinary Watches” section hosted independent watchmakers, such as Altanus Geneve, Loman, Louis Erard, Paul Picot and Storm London, for the second year.
Ermanno Sordi of Mondia Watch Group, which produces watches for its Mondia Italy brand, as well as Ferrari and Hugo Boss, said his company was founded in Switzerland in 1935, but has been producing watches here in Italy for 15 years. “I can count the people who make watches here in Italy on one hand,” Sordi said. In an age of smartwatches, it is important to stand out with an interesting price point for a timepiece that will last longer, he observed.
Marzotto noted that the Italian watch industry is more about style and less about manufacturing.
“There is room to grow. They are not very big companies but they are competitive, as they are designed in Italy and produced in Switzerland,” Marzotto added.
Mario Peserico, ceo of Louis Ebherard Italia said that Italy remains an important market for Swiss watch makers. “Vicenzaoro has a lot of international watch makers, not just Italians and there are a lot of budding trends to be spotted here, like the military, aeronautical theme. This is a marketplace for all tastes,” Peserico said.