Neiman Marcus is staging an “Italian Jewelry Festival” to get shoppers in an early holiday-gifting mood and to rev up a category that can use a lift.
The event, running Thursday through Oct. 18 inside the precious jewelry salons in the 41 Neiman’s full-line locations, involves 20 Italian brands and is supported by a look book mailed to 65,000 homes last week and supported online, with social media, parties and appearances by designers and artisans. “Even our food service division is behind this. They’ve come up with creative Italian dishes to feature in our restaurants,” said Larry Pelzel, vice president of precious jewelry at Neiman Marcus. “As far as I know, our precious jewelry division has never done anything to this scale before.”
It’s being held in collaboration with the Italian Trade Commission, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and Confindustria Federorafi.
The mix of vendors include both big and established brands and newer or smaller vendors, including Utopia, a pearl resource; Vhernier a fashion gold house; Picchiotti, which is known for precision cut diamonds and gem stones, and Adolfo Courrier, for colored jewelry and gem stones. Others participating are Buccellati, Bulgari, Crivelli, Leo Pizzo, Marco Bicego, Mariani, Marina B, Mattia Cielo, Mattioli, Miseno, Pasquale Bruni, Pomellato, Roberto Coin, Staurino Fratelli, Vendorafa and Zydo.
Carlo Angelo Bocchi, Italian Trade commissioner in Houston and project coordinator said, “This is the best year for Italian jewels since 2005.”
Pelzel indicated, “Three years ago, in Italy on a trip, we realized the Italian jewelry industry was going through some sort of demise for whatever reason, whether it be competition or pricing or other emerging markets. It seemed like Italian cities and Italian shows had fewer and fewer Italian manufacturers. After asking some of our Italian partners, we thought it might be a good industry endeavor to focus on Italian craftmanship and jewelry. We bounced the idea off four or five of our primary Italian partners including Bulgari and Roberto Coin, and they all thought it would be super to bring some interest and attention to the industry. We ended up landing on 20 Italian partners, some of whom are brand new to us.”
Italian vendors comprise 25 to 30 percent of Neiman’s precious jewelry offering, according to Pelzel. “People are buying something that is very well made and with sound value, and items that they can wear more often. Gone are the days of buying something and wearing it two times a year.”