Jewellery Outlook
 
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Trade Fair Reviews
 
  Business steady at IJL, but downturn sours mood
 
By George Appleshaw/September 3, 2008

LONDON, September 3, 2008 – Attendance was high at International Jewellery London (IJL) again this year and jewellers reported strong buying interest, but the overall mood was soured by worries over the impact of the global economic slowdown.

Jewellers said the top tier of the jewellery market was doing well, apparently immune to the credit crunch, but market conditions were tougher at the middle and lower end as a combination of economic slowdown, falling stock markets and asset prices and soaring food and fuel prices squeezed household incomes.

Diamond entrepreneur Martin Rapaport, in a keynote speech to IJL, warned that conditions in the global diamond industry were volatile and unpredictable, and said it could take at least a couple of years before the economy of the United States, by far the world’s leading market for diamond jewellery, recovers.

“The diamond industry is undergoing unprecedented risk and uncertainty,” he said.

“You can’t just keep on doing business the same way,” he told delegates.

“External economic forces will have a greater impact on your business than local and internal events. You must understand the need to change and create a new business strategy. It’s all about adding value – or who needs you.”

Jewellers attending IJL identified the Gulf, China, India and Eastern Europe, notably Russia and Kazakhstan, as key growth markets for high end jewellery.

Jewellery designers showcasing their latest work at the fair were largely upbeat about inquiries, although some reported slack interest and said they would have to refine their marketing strategies to boost interest.

One stand that was extremely busy was that of Shaun Leane, who attracted plenty of inquiries and announced the recent opening of a new boutique in Tokyo.

BLAZE OF COLOUR

Colour was all the rage at IJL this year, and the demand outlook for coloured diamonds was extremely bright, jewellers said.

Coloured diamonds are increasingly sought after, and prices of the rarest coloured gemstones are likely to go higher, said Yves Frey, director of Hatton Garden, London-based Yves Frey Diamonds.

Wholesale price points for Yves Frey’s new collection of coloured diamond jewellery, “Les Adorables”, launched at IJL on August 31, ranged from 1,600 pounds plus VAT to 30,000 pounds plus VAT.