Is the end coming for jewelry trade shows? Some say their days are counted. I went to visit one of my very favorite trade shows: VicenzaOro and here is what I observed. Come with me!
It was, as usually, a little like coming home for me. Having lived in Italy for 10 years and having visited this particular trade fair for more than 20 years, I have, what you might call, a very deep connection with the country, the people on the fair and the jewelry itself.
Daniela Villegas Amazing Jewelry...I loved the colors, the details and her fantasy. Also: superkind designer and an overall welcome and open atmosphere in her booth!
My first day on the trade fair was Sunday. Traditionally, I would say, one of the best trade days for business as many jewelers choose this particular day to come to the fair and do their purchases for their stores. Meeting with the brands they carry and check out the latest trends and perhaps take on a new brand or two. It did however, occur to me that the trade floor had less visitors than usually.
This is what makes jewelry, extraordinary jewelry. The falcon seems almost alive, the eyes are stunning and the ring is simply perfect. It's a dream piece of jewelry and for a public that can both afford and appreciate this, but oh my, I loved it!
But let me start by saying that VicenzaOro outdid itself again. The booths were beautiful, the services to get to the trade fair were great, although if one uses, as one should be encouraged to, the free bus from the city centre to the trade fair, it’s a slightly less glamorous start and ending of the day. The busses are overcrowded and often the worst in people bubbles up, when feeling squeezed and so on. One diamond dealer thought it was appropriate to grab me even, preventing me to sit down as he ‘reserved’ another chair for his male friend. I mean, it’s not pretty.
The lady dragon ring by Roberto Coin. So, my son is obsessed with dragons and I loved to look around and send him pictures of it, whenever I found them. Like this one, again by Roberto Coin.
But other than that, every time I visit the fair, things have improved and they never rest on their laurels.
There were some exciting new features on the fair. The Design Room is just an amazing idea and should be encouraged to grow. It deserves a better position and with even more brands that we never saw before here on Vicenza. It has always been an Italian party, but today I found more foreign brands and I thought it added to the value of the trade fair in general.
This is a crown made for weddings. I believe it to be Algerian weddings. The crown is in gold and although it's not heavy, it is quite a piece to wear on a wedding! This is a company that specializes in this particular jewelry
The other feature on the fair is the Look & Glamroom. Now, this is a jewelry trade fair. Gold, diamonds, gemstones and silver. But fashion jewelry brands are on the rise, big time. Not every fashion jewelry brand can make my heart beat a little faster but there are some great discoveries to be made and I loved Amlé, Sharra Pagano and many others that showed something exciting and new. I also met with Jennifer Diodati, originally from Nigeria and now living in London and trying to make a difference with her brand Eden Diodati, by working with women in Rwanda, a country known for its horrific genocide years ago, allowing them to create an income and future for themselves, whilst creating part of the jewelry Eden Diodati makes. The beading is from their hands. Soon on Bizzita, we tell you more about this project as it captured my heart.
Fernando Jorge. I was highly recommended by Daniela Villegas to take a look at his collection. It isn't bold but it is beautiful, fine a subtle jewelry. With a choice of gemstones that make it look somehow delicious. I saw the detail in his work and the craftmanship. This is jewelry for a much larger audience and a name to watch. Ps. Fernando is not just a great designer but also a lovely person, with a true inner passion for what he does.
I was on the fair for three whole days and still it was not enough. I had the pleasure to talk to many brands and great people. What I do on a trade fair like this, my friends ask me. Don’t you get enough of it after 3 days? Well, no. What do you do the whole day there? they ask me, slightly bewildered.
I walk around and breath in the atmosphere. I observe not just the jewelry, but also the attitude of the people. The people who are there to buy and the people who are there to sell.
I try to inhale or absorb what the sentiment is of my surroundings. Positive, negative and why?
The Facco Jewelry girls
I do, of course, also plan a lot of visits to the various booths. Taking pictures, getting stories, meeting with owners and brands alike. And I do my business meetings as my main work is being a consultant. So I met with organisations and futurists, magazine editors and marketing people, to get to know each other and perhaps do something together in the future.
The whimsical handpainted collecton of charms by Gabriella Rivalta. So delightful
I hear so many complain about declining visitors and declining sales on the trade fair. To be fair, they are a little expensive for visitors who have to take an airplane to visit it. ( although I argue that Vicenza is so convenient, flights are mostly inexpensive on Venice and your stay can be arranged in a wide area around the city, with enough options, nothing like the impossible, but ever so fascinating, Basel fair, which is ridiculously expensive to visit)
These rings are by Palmiero. Palmiero is this kind of genius designer with a very modest personality. A private person that strives to create the most astonishing technical pieces of jewerly. These rings are not rigid but soft and flexible, making them so easy to wear. The delicacy is compensating the size somehow. I love big rings, but not everyone does. Wearing a ring like this however, does create this beautiful effect on the hand, but one does not have to 'suffer' the inconviences of a normal big ring.
Still, it isn’t something just going on in jewelry. It is happening all around us in other businesses too. And how to engage people again? I am not sure if I have the right suggestions, although my head explodes with ideas :-) as usual.
As things are changing in jewelry retail and retail in general, and city centres are dealing with less stores and empty ones, as we are all at the beginning of a new era in which AI and AR will play huge roles, as we have all changed thanks to an incredible crisis of many years and Millennials arrived on the market with their different desires and habits, it is true that we need accepting the fact that perhaps trade shows in general will need to change dramatically too. Facing the music...
This little beauty is by Paolo Piovan
And as no one has the answers of how to, as we really cannot oversee the impact yet of all these developments aforementioned, we have to stay alert. Keep our eyes and especially our mind open, wide open. Thinking that things won’t need change, is foolish and dangerous. But it is only time that will help us to make the right step, each and every time, to the future of how trade shows will look. Changes are coming rapidly, but not overnight, so just take steps every time and you won’t need to catch up later and miss perhaps the boat completely.
Jennifer Diodati from Eden Diodati with her lovely assistant
In the meantime, should you work in jewelry, please continue visiting the trade shows. They are, and I am truly serious about this, an incredible source of inspiration. Talk to the people, listen even more, observe and open up your heart to new things. Step away from your own convictions and open up to brands with a strong story. Or to a designer from abroad. Step into one of the major producers of unbranded silver and create a strong own look. Create a jewelry store that will excite people, where you can tell stories about your collections.
Don’t be a jeweler, be an entrepreneur!
My last moment on the fair. I tried to make a little vlog but I felt too selfconcious and sounded like the Queen again, so no way I am going to publish that ! ;-)
Ps. if you are just a jewelry enthusiast, but work, as many of our lovely readers do, in a completely different trade, please do visit the fairs of your trade as well. I am very curious to hear your stories about your trade fairs and what you think of them. And what you think should be improved so please do write me!
As I promised in the title, I do want to give my three reason why I think there is still hope for trade fairs.
1. Don't be a jeweler, be an entrepeneur. Although it's all about jewelry, many of the retailers think only about the jewelry. They don't always think like an entrepreneur. Before you disagree, please let me explain you why I say this. One should look at the store with, a can hardly believe it is coming from my mouth, but...a little less passion for being a jeweler and a little more about the entrepreneural part of the business. That doesn't mean that the jewelry does not matter, but that one should stop the micro management and think far more about the clients. What do they really want, what problem can I solve for them? How can I be of value to them? Do visit trade fairs, because you might get the inspiration needed. Go to the trendforecaster and talk with peers. Seek for new things, what is there that can really add something to my business. How can adding certain services or brands help me to gain more profit or turnover.
2. Trade fairs should and could be hub for inspiration and community. Are there hot topics to discuss, want to get some different ideas or perspectives? Why not create events where retailers etc. can get more information and exchange ideas in an interactive way. Or invite someone who can tell more about franchise ideas, or expanding online-and offline store to name a few. Conversation about problems in the business regarding safety, regulations, decline in sales with the guidance of an experienced host who knows how to turn the conversation into something that can actually inspire people to brainstorm together about possible solutions.
3.Get personal! Trade fairs should be the place to go to, to immerse yourself completely into your business. What if you could get a full service upfront and a recommended personal schedule, based upon your preferences, wishes, needs etc. What if it felt like you had a kind of personal assistant, available for anything. From your flight, or parking, your meals and invoices, your schedule, the people that you should meet and so forth. I know that steps are made, but what if it felt like they understood your very need instead of you arriving at the trade fair, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of exhibitors, standing in line to get your validation, standing again in line to get your coat in a safe place. And ending up spending too much time at the brands you already work with and too little on other affairs. What if you could have the feeling to have used your time truly to achieve the goals you had in mind? And gained inspiration, contacts and knowledge? Would you still consider it to be too expensive? Or a waste of time? I am sure you wouldn't.
Oh yes, visiting VicenzaOro was worth the effort.
It’s intense and I am always very excited meeting new people, old acquaintances and friends. And I love how in the evening, I take the bus ride, squeezed like a sardine again, back to the city centre. To be with my friends where I can take off the make up, put something comfy on and talk about life, family, pets and friends and nothing about jewelry. Very refreshing :-) And then turn to Skype to chat with my son and hubby, back home.
Paolo Piovan...Lovely parrot ring!
I do hope you enjoyed the photos. Aren’t they amazing? I mean, it’s mind blowing jewelry! I can still feel the passion in my heart, the enchantment of it all. I am deeply in love with the world of jewelry and I feel a huge desire to contribute to the future of jewelry. This is why, I came back with even more stories to share with you. My desire to do something for the jewelry world, is so big that I have started to write a book:-)
So bear with me! and drop me a line if you have any question about the book or the trade fair...
Delighted to see Mousson on VicenzaOro!
Palmiero Design...fabulous rings with the famous pictures of painters. Do you recognize them?
Rosato, once the trendsetter, but today belonging to the more classical booths.
A beautiful lady. I remember that back in the early 2000's the women that were employed to promote brands on the trade fair were all too often incredibly sexy. But it always felt uncomfortable somehow to stand to male clients, colleagues etc. clearly drooling or making even remarks. I always experienced a kind of feeling sorry for the girls as they were used in this way. It also felt a little too much in your face for all the ladies visiting the fair and today I am glad to see that we see a lot more class
The two enthusiastic and very lovely girls from Sharra Pagano
Sara Ho. Again I was delighted to meet a new name on the trade fair. Sara has her very own style and creates wonderful jewelry. Easy on the eyes, yet bold and daring in their very own way. It makes the trade fair a lot more internationally important and interesting, if VicenzaOro opens her doors to more and more foreign brands. Here are no watches to compete with, like on Basel and it is a more affordable trade fair too. Maybe opening up to more and more foreign brands will make this fair even more competitive and important than it is now
Wendy Yue, a personal favorite! I was so pleased to meet her and truth be told, I am always thrilled to meet people in real life. Of course, the jewelry was out of this world. But I have this habit of trying to capture the atmosphere in the booth. How are people reacting to me, how are they interacting between themselves, is it relaxed, focused or blasé and uninterested. You'll be surprised how many continue to read their paper or cell phone! But not at Wendy Yue. Wendy herself is this very elegant lady, with that effortless style that one simply has or hasn't. A business lady who runs not just a jewelry brand and yet, kind and easy going. I loved her jewelry and I loved what I saw around me
Roberto Coin. Just pick your favorite! The elephant below is also by Roberto Coin
Taking a little break from running around the fair
In the evening, it was time to relax, staying at friends and their many lovely pets. What better way to end the day with chats about pets, life, family and friends?