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VicenzaOro First has tough start, focus shifts to About J
By Tom Wildhern


VICENZA, January 25, 2009 - Although the corridors were often packed, the number of foreign buyers at VicenzaOro First, the first big trade fair on the 2009 jewellery calendar, was less than expected due to the economic slowdown, and now the industry's hopes shift to the elite About J event showcasing international brands on February 22-24 in Milan.

"The world recession has caused a clear reduction in traffic (at the fair)," said a statement by Vicenza Fair after the January 11-18 VicenzaOro First wrapped up.

"Even though bookings were higher than the 2008 event, the number of participants was down 30 percent to 15,500, and the number of foreign buyers was down even more sharply."

However, the jewellers attending the Vicenza Fair fought hard for business, defiantly launching new collections despite the downturn, and supporting innovative marketing drives like the aesthetic Glam Room, located next to the International Hall.

"The companies demonstrated a great sense of responsibility, focusing on quality and research, and developing products, technology and innovative marketing," the Vicenza Fair said.

"The 2009 edition of VicenzaOro First has distinguished itself by its wealth of novelty, the launch of numerous original collections, innovative in design, materials and technology."

But the impact of the worsening global economic slowdown cannot be ignored, and is at the centre of everybody's attention, as no one knows how severe it will be and how long it will last.

The only way forward is to battle hard for business, by reaching out to new buyers vigorously, presenting creative and ingenious designs, using inventive mixtures of materials, and finding new markets.

The next test of the fine jewellery trade will be the About J event, which will lure senior buyers from around the world, particularly from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and China -- emerging economies that have so far proved to be more resilient to the downturn than the United States, which recently lost its place as the number one market for Italian gold and silver jewellery exports.

The prestigious club of buyers attending About J will be treated to Italian hospitality at its finest, staying all together at one of Milan's most luxurious hotels, enjoying a sumptuous Gala Dinner after the show kicks off, and a round of glittering social events.

The elegant ambiance of About J, which comes just before Milan fashion week, will hopefully coax buyers into the right frame of mind to pick and choose from the inspired designs on offer from brands such as Rodney Rayner's ostentatious, colourful jewels, to the magnificent diamond jewellery of Roberto Coin, and cutting-edge designs from Hellmuth Simply Good.


Depending on the success of the event in February, About J may eventually "emigrate" to other large international cities, such as London and Hong Kong, organisers say.

About J this year will take place at a former aircraft factory known as the East End Studios, with 6,000 square metres of exhibition space -- bigger than the inaugural event last year as the show gains momentum and prestige.