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VicenzaOro Lifts Sentiment Despite Slow Sales

Attendance at Italian show well below pre-pandemic levels.
Sep 21, 2020 11:05 AM   By David Brough
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RAPAPORT... VicenzaOro staged the first major international jewelry trade fair since before Covid-19 amid strict safety measures, with buyers booking modest orders.

Attendance was well below pre-pandemic levels due to the absence of participants from the Americas and Asia at the Italian show, which took place on September 12 to 14. However, the mood was upbeat, as visitors to both the physical and virtual platforms were happy to be able to network and resume business.

“After days of intensive work, in the halls and online, the feedback we are getting from exhibitors, visitors and the market, is extremely positive — for what we did for the industry and for the innovation we have introduced in the trade-fairs sector,” VicenzaOro director Marco Carniello told Rapaport News.

VicenzaOro International Community Event (VOICE), organized by Italian Exhibition Group (IEG), featured 370 mainly Italian exhibitors, sharing identical booth architecture. The use of masks was obligatory, social distancing was in force, and hand sanitizer was widely available.

Organizers said they had set low expectations for business due to the impact of the pandemic, but buyers were ordering from exhibitors’ latest collections in physical booths. More than 200 trade deals were also sealed in virtual buyers’ rooms, the fair said.

Exhibitors reported fewer orders at the Vicenza show than pre-Covid-19, but they relished the networking.

“The show was quiet on a general level, and so have been the orders,” said Laura Bicego, creative director and cofounder of Italian jewelry brand Nanis.

“Greatly missed were our international customers, who preferred not to come for safety reasons. But still, VOICE was an opportunity to meet customers and colleagues, and a big signal of recovery from the past months, which I find was really important and needed.”

Sergio Antonini, creative director of Milan-based jeweler Antonini, added that even though the show had far fewer exhibitors and buyers, his company received some small orders. “We broadly covered the costs of the exhibition,” Antonini said. “The new layout was very nice and the stands, even if small, were appropriate to the current situation.”

Representing the jeweler Fope, a leading exhibitor, chief marketing officer Marilisa Cazzola, argued that the main goal was not necessarily to generate sales, but rather to show support.

“I think the focus was much more on sending a message, from Italy to the international jewelry industry: We are here; we are strong. We proved that it is still possible to find times and places to meet and liaise — and at the same time to be connected to the rest of the world thanks to digital tools,” she added.

As a buyer, Pieteke Bode, owner of Dutch jewelry retailer Bodes & Bode, felt that the show exceeded expectations.

“A lot of beautiful new jewelry pieces were presented,” he observed. “It’s always good to return home with new inspiration for the fourth quarter.”

The items Bode bought included “a lot of bracelets and necklaces from suppliers we already know,” as well as a beautiful tennis necklace (or riviera necklace) and big heart-shaped earrings with and without diamonds, he noted.

Jacov Joshach, of diamond supplier Blue White Group, who attended the show as a buyer, saw VOICE as a signal that dealers and retailers were ready to start doing business again.

“This has been the first opportunity after a long time,” he observed. “In the diamond business there are still many doubts and uncertainties over pricing and the evolution of the market and platforms, but clients are hungry to buy and ready to restart doing healthy business.”

The VOICE summit, an education program that ran during the show, included 100 speakers — some physical and others virtual, and attracted more than 3.5 million views across the digital channels — organizers said.

Image: A visitor views a jewelry display at VicenzaOro 2020. (Italian Exhibition Group)
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Tags: Antonini, Blue White Group, Bodes & Bode, David Brough, diamonds, Fope, jewellery, Jewelry, Nanis, Rapaport News, Vicenzaoro, VOICE
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