Byline: Tanja Khakshouir

PARIS — Bijorhca, the four-day jewelry and accessories trade show that ended here Sept. 8, had not only a new owner, but a new look this season.
For the first time, exhibitors were organized in three distinct groups: timepieces and precious and semiprecious jewelry, costume jewelry and a technical area with everything from packaging to point-of-sale fixtures.
This new arrangement was done by the Miller Freeman group, the show’s new owner, to reposition the trade show to focus on fashion accessories and to boost its recognition.
Another feature of the new Bijorhca is that an admission fee of $23 (140 francs) is now charged to discourage casual visitors. Many visitors, including faithful Bijorhca clients, were upset by this. “Ridiculous” was a term muttered by the disgruntled buyers.
Many exhibitors were enthusiastic about the show’s new layout, which heightened the visibility of different categories of products, but they were disappointed with attendance. They said that while there appeared to be more visitors than at last January’s show, they had expected a better turnout for the September session.
According to organizers, 17,000 attended Bijorhca this season. This figure is not comparable with attendance at the September 1996 session, when the show included tabletop goods and was open to the general public.
To encourage visitors, some company executives suggested that Bijorhca’s dates be pushed back to the middle or end of September, noting the first weekend of the month is when buyers are just returning from summer holidays.
A few exhibitors said they don’t understand why the French even bother coming. “All they do is sniff around,” said one company head. “The Japanese still remain our best clients, even though there are fewer today than in the past.”
As for accessories, chokers and pendants were everywhere. There were metal, velvet or leather cords with crosses, hearts or abstractly shaped pendants.
Maker Gavilene, based here, showed big, extravagant pieces with shiny Swarovski crystal pendants in flashy colors like blue, violet or orange strung on black velvet or metal. Antigona, also based here, showed smaller, more discrete looks with a natural theme using polished metal in a variety of leaf shapes.
Another strong jewelry trend was versatile pieces.
Balenciaga’s matte gold and colored stone brooches could be worn as pins, or strung on long pendants or on short velvet chokers.
“Women today don’t have as much time to change [from day to evening], so why not buy one piece of jewelry and be able to use it for several occasions? During the day, use it as a choker; at night, wear it as a brooch,” said a spokeswoman for Delpha, based here, a company that showed reversible chokers with gold beads on one side and multicolored beads on the other.
Some of the jewelry companies also showed non-jewelry items like home decorative objects.
Antigona introduced a new home collection featuring silverware, vases and glass bottles with ornamented metal tops. These pieces picked up the same natural themes seen in the jewelry.
Another jewelry resource showing home furnishings was Zor, based here. The brand showed mirrors and picture frames with its trademark little man figure that often appears on Zor’s jewelry.
Although the number of foreign buyers was lower than usual, an international mood dominated the show. Exhibitors said they were enthusiastic about the contacts they made, but would have liked more firm orders.
Some exhibitors complained the overall interest in fashion jewelry is down from previous seasons.
“The problem is that women no longer find the need to wear jewelry, and if they buy it, it’s in lower price ranges. Another problem is that the press has been ignoring us for a long time and minimalism has dominated the fashion scene,” observed Christine Thiery-Perret, the export manager for Balenciaga.

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