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Jewellers defy crisis as Vicenza Fair "Charm" edition opens
By James Clatford
VICENZA, Italy, May 16, 2009 - The Vicenza jewellery "Charm" fair opened on Saturday in
Vicenza Charm 2009
Fiera di Vicenza
defiant mood as industry leaders urged innovation and hard work to combat the crisis in the Italian industry.

"1,300 companies and entrepreneurs are taking part in this edition of Vicenza Charm to face up to the market, to struggle and compete -- and to find, even during a crisis, opportunities for a renaissance," Dino Menarin, President of the Vicenza Fair, said in the opening ceremony of the event, which runs until May 20.

Menarin said that, according to industry body Assicor, Italian jewellery production has fallen 20 percent in value in the first quarter of 2009, due to sharp falls in foreign and domestic demand.

Vicenza Charm 2009
Fiera di Vicenza
According to Assicor, Italian jewellery sales on the domestic market fell 39 percent and export sales were down 18.3 percent in the first two months of 2009.

Menarin said the Italian jewellery manufacturing and goldsmith sector is defying the crisis by innovating and redoubling efforts to develop markets.

"In the words of Albert Einstein, a crisis is a blessing for peoples and countries because it brings progress," Menarin said.

"Without crisis, there is no challenge, and without challenge life is routine -- a slow agony."

The Italian jewellery manufacturing sector has been hard hit by the global recession as consumers feel less confident about buying luxury when jobs are on the line. Italy exports about three-quarters of its jewellery production.

Lower labour costs in developing countries, where skills have improved, are strong competition to the Italian jewellery industry, especially at the lower end of the market.

Mario Boselli, President of the National Fashion Chamber, said the Italian fashion industry had suffered as much as the jewellery business in the economic downturn.

He appealed for close collaboration between the two industries.
Vicenza Charm 2009
Fiera di Vicenza
"The worlds of fashion and jewellery went down two roads that did not meet," Boselli said.

"The alliance between the fashion chamber and the Vicenza Fair is here to change that. The fact that I am here today is proof of that."

The Glam Room at Vicenza Charm, adjacent to the most prestigious B1 pavilion, permitted young companies to show off their jewellery and fashion creations.

Claudia Buccellati of Buccellati said at the opening ceremony that supreme craftsmanship, and hard work, were key to surviving the crisis and reaching the next level.

"Only excellence and the desire to work will take us forward," she said.

Buccellati presented jewels from its 90-year history in a museum exhibit prominently displayed at the main entrance to the fair.