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Vicenzaoro Charm 2011
Vicenzaoro Charm 2011
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Italy turns to Asia to revitalise jewellery industry

VicenzaOro Charm, the May edition of Italy’s thrice-yearly jewellery show, confirms the growing importance of Asia and considers ways to adapt the Vicenza show format in the face of an increasingly crowded market.
Since the fair opened, Vicenza Fair president Roberto Ditri has been on the front foot explaining some of the difficulties the Italian jewellery industry is facing. He explained that Italy was now firmly focused on the Asian market. “Markets change continually and at different speeds, they shift from West to East, towards China, India, and Eastern Europe,” he said in his opening address on Saturday.

In a press conference on Monday he further detailed how export markets had shifted for Italy. "Asia will be the number one market, led by China," Ditri said.

Providing hope for a revitalised Italian industry concentrating on an “Italian DNA” of design, he added, “Chinese consumers are increasingly informed and sophisticated; they are beginning to shun fake and counterfeit products that they now recognise, paying more attention to luxury goods, involving not only the upper classes of the population, but the middle classes as well.”

Even in the face of the dramatic shifts towards the East and some of the challenges Italy faces in competing with Asian manufacturers – Italian-made jewellery attracts import duties into China – Ditri confirmed that Vicenza will continue to host three jewellery events a year, although he could not confirm the format will remain the same.

“I explained in January [at Vicenza fair] that we believe we will have one fair in January and one in September. The May exhibition will be changed in accordance to the way the market demands,” Ditri told Jeweller.

Vicenza Fair president Roberto Ditri
Vicenza Fair president Roberto Ditri

Asked if that meant the May Vicenza fair might stop operating, Ditri was adamant there would be three events every year. “I will not say there will [always] be three fairs but we will always have three events,” he explained.

Many people question whether Vicenza can continue to host three international fairs annually in the face of the economic challenges facing Italy and parts of the European Union and the growing importance of the Asian markets, and that territory’s extensive roster of jewellery fairs, particularly in Hong Kong and southern China.

“It’s not a matter of challenges,” Ditri countered, “It’s a matter of ‘offer and demand’. We can promote the businesses of the companies [exhibitors] no problem, but we have to find the right way to promote the fairs. If we can promote the fairs properly we need to find another way to change the format.”

At the VicenzaOro First fair in January, Ditri announced a five-year growth and revitalisation plan for the Italian jewellery shows.

Dubbed FDV 2011/15 Project, it calls for a facelift of the fair grounds, including the addition of a 15,000 sq m, open-floor-plan pavilion (covering the site of the former Motel Agip, in the vicinity of the existing grounds) to accommodate more exhibitors.

Busy times at Vicenzaoro Charm 2011
Busy times at Vicenzaoro Charm 2011

Other plans include a jewellery museum in Vicenza, a parking facility for the fair grounds as well as a new proposed atrium in the redesigned Fiera di Vicenza event space.

As well as these changes next year, which will see the May fair begin offering more cost-effective booth space to lesser-known designers and manufacturers, the shows will also begin promoting young Italian designers with a new competition.

“We are very much focused on young designers. We have launched a new worldwide contest called, ‘New talents in jewellery’, which is dedicated to Italian and international designers under 30,” Ditri said.

The competition is promoted by Fiera di Vicenza in collaboration with the Milan Poli-Design and the first theme is entitled, ‘Souvenir d’Italie’. Ditri said, “Fiera di Vicenza believes in young people and the competition represents one of the indispensable scouting tools necessary to promote the growth of excellent professional profiles.”

Around 1,400 companies exhibited at the fair – 900 Italian and 500 international – and at the time of writing visitor numbers had yet to be announced.

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