by family-run companies in centres such as Vicenza and Valenza, would remain vital to differentiate the Italian product in international markets.
"We will have a difficult year (in 2009)," he said. "The 'Made in Italy' branding remains fundamental. The identity of our product can provide a solution (to the economic crisis)."
Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, said in his keynote speech that the Italian goldsmith sector would not escape the impact of the economic crisis, but he was optimistic that a recovery in global economic conditions could come in 2010.
STATISTICS HIGHLIGHT TOUGH MARKETS
Menarin said that, according to the latest available figures, Italian gold and silver jewellery exports fell by 5.5 percent in value and 8.2 percent in quantity in the first nine months of 2008, compared with the same period of the previous year.
Italian jewellery sales to the United States, which for many years used to be the number one market, fell by 28.3 percent in the first nine months of 2008 year-on-year to 348.8 million euros. The U.S. is now the number three market for Italian jewellery exports.
The United Arab Emirates, buoyed by oil revenues, has become the number one market for Italian jewellery exports, accounting for 16.4 percent of the total market share.
Sales of Italian jewellery to the UAE grew by 14.6 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2008 to 515.2 million euros.
Exports to Switzerland, the number two market for Italian jewellery, rose by 4.9 percent year-on-year to 365.5 million euros in the January to September 2008 period.
COMMUNICATION OF A BRAND
In the round table discussion, delegates spoke of the need to invest in communicating a brand despite the harsh economic climate.
Mario Attalla, Managing Director of Grey Worldwide Italia, spoke of Morellato's effective video advertising which highlighted its latest jewellery creations.
"When we enter a recession, the trend is to close one's wallet," he said. "But we need to invest. A brand gives a return."
The January edition of the Vicenza Fair, known as First, runs from January 11 to 18.