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Articles from DIAMOND JEWELLERY (983 Articles), FASHION JEWELLERY (291 Articles), EDUCATION / TRAINING (185 Articles)

An impressive number of visitors were waiting for the opening bell on day one of the jewellery fair
An impressive number of visitors were waiting for the opening bell on day one of the jewellery fair

Sydney 2015 jewellery fair shines bright

The promise of more exhibitors, products and activities in the lead-up to the International Jewellery Fair appears to have paved the way for a well-attended event that should indicate positive news for the industry.

The 2015 Sydney International Jewellery Fair (IJF), which was held at the temporary Sydney Exhibition Centre Glebe Island venue for the second year running, concluded on Monday 31 August with an overall sense of optimism.

This was something that came to the surprise of some exhibitors who had expressed concern over the current buying sentiments of retailers, particularly given the international stock markets had taken a hit one week prior.

The worries about whether a change in schedule that meant the opening day occurred on a Saturday rather than the traditional Sunday would negatively impact visitor numbers also proved to be much ado about nothing.

As Gary Fitz-Roy, managing director of IJF organiser Expertise Events, explained, there was a steady stream of buyers across the first two days of the fair – as opposed to the extremely busy opening day of previous years that would then trickle off on the second and third day. 

“I think the reality is that rather than having an opening day on Sunday that was, if anything, too busy, a Saturday means that the crowd is spread across the two days,” he said. “So Saturday, for example would have been stronger than a traditional Monday, and today [Sunday] is reasonably strong again, meaning you now have two quite strong days.”

The concept, which was trialled several years ago, was supported by most exhibitors that spoke with Jeweller and Fitz-Roy has confirmed next year’s event will also begin on Saturday.

Increased attendance

Speaking on the Sunday afternoon, Fitz-Roy said it was still too early to provide exact visitor numbers but preliminary figures indicated a slight increase on the 2014 event.

“Last year was the first time in a few years that we had a little lift. There’s an overall positive vibe that I think has been lacking in the last few years. I think that people realise that where we [the economy] are now is the ‘new normal’ and whether that be good, bad or indifferent, it’s a realistic platform to build from,” he added.

Fitz-Roy’s comments were supported by many suppliers who said they were not only pleasantly surprised by the number of buyers occupying the show floor on Saturday and Sunday but also by the general upbeat attitude. 

The stands of larger suppliers such as Sams Group Australia and Duraflex Group Australia, which carries high-profile brands Thomas Sabo and Nikki Lissoni, seemed to attract a vast number of visitors, as did Pallion, which was awarded best large stand by Expertise Events.

Bolt International, local distributor for Ice-Watch and Lola and Grace, also generated buzz with new season collections. Bolt International managing director Larry Porter said the latest ranges had been well received and he was particularly excited to launch another stand-alone watch brand called Henry London.

“I first saw the vintage-inspired collection at this year’s BaselWorld. It’s all very new with the brand making its official international debut in September,” Porter explained, adding, “The feedback we’ve had so far has been great with a number of retailers already asking when they can stock the [Henry] range.”

Exhibitors that fare well at IJF are typically those that have new products and initiatives to show retailers.

Disney Couture managing director Michael Tran said he had no complaints regarding trade at the fair. Visitors couldn’t miss the six-foot Star Wars Stormtrooper figure stationed at the supplier’s booth, which retailers could stand beside for a photo. The statue acted as a promotion for Disney Couture’s upcoming Star Wars range and was said to have sparked much intrigue.

Tran also expressed excitement about winning the award for best small stand which, in addition to featuring the Stormtrooper, centred on his team’s interpretation of the Alice and Wonderland Mad Hatter tea party.

Ken Abbott, managing director of Timesupply, used the fair as a launch pad for a shop-in-shop model available to retailers stocking German brand Coeur de Lion.

Abbott said the concept had generated a good deal of interest, adding he was pleased to have broken “new ground” by signing on with a number of new retailers as well.

Buyers in attendance had the opportunity to meet with more than 50 first-time exhibitors too. 

Danish brand Endless Jewelry was arguably the most high-profile newcomer. Peter Jakobsen, director of Endless local distributor Nordic Jewellery, said he found the fair to be beneficial as it provided the ability to meet with existing and potential retail stockists face-to-face.

“We have also already had a number of re-orders following our first stock delivery last week, which is pleasantly surprising, and have signed on with some new retailers too,” he explained.

Endless founder Jesper Nielsen was also in attendance for the three days, making a daily presentation – which appeared to draw an impressive crowd – about his business and experience regarding the development of a ‘big’ brand.

Jenny Miller, founder and CEO of Miglio Designer Jewellery, and Julie-Anne Bosworth, sales and marketing director of local distributor Abrazi Australia, were two other first-time exhibitors who said they had received positive feedback and would leave the fair with a greater understanding of local market demands.

The Henry London watch range was launched at the fair
The Henry London watch range was launched at the fair
Disney Couture won the award for best small stand
Disney Couture won the award for best small stand

Jesper Nielsen, Endless Jewelry founder
Jesper Nielsen, Endless Jewelry founder
Miglio Designer Jewellery was a first-time exhibitor
Miglio Designer Jewellery was a first-time exhibitor

Swing to high end

Jewellery suppliers falling within the branded and fashion jewellery categories weren't the only exhibitors that received attention from buyers.

Several exhibitors specialising in loose diamonds and coloured gemstones as well as finished jewellery were busy throughout the show, indicating a demand for higher-priced items. 

Jim Lehman, managing director of Lost River Diamonds, said he was very happy: “We had a great fair on the Gold Coast in March and now Sydney has capped it off.”

According to Macabi Diamonds managing director Yoni Levy, retailers are currently seeking high-end quality goods. 

“Another trend that we’ve noticed is that people are looking for less colour and more clarity in diamonds and coloured gemstones – compensating on colour for less inclusions,” he added. 

Levy said the business’ new Colombian emerald collection had also sold well, which was in line with comments from other suppliers like Mark McAskill Jewellery, Worth & Douglas and Bolton Gems that highlighted the popularity of coloured gemstones and brown (or chocolate) coloured diamonds.

Another apparent trend on the show floor was the increasing number of exhibitors offering CAD/CAM and 3D printing-related products and services along with interest from manufacturing jewellers and designers.

Rapid Casting’s Ben Farago, LST Group’s Chris Hill, CAD Culture’s Melody Vincent-Winspear and Evolution Jewellers’ Anthony Nowlan all noted a great number of enquiries being made by jewellers throughout the fair.

Nowlan said he was quite surprised as not only were there people on his stand from the moment the doors opened but he was writing orders within the first 10 minutes.

Added features

IJF has always been about the business transactions between suppliers and retailers; however, the trade show has also developed a reputation for offering a comprehensive education program.

“We’ve persevered with our education sessions and most of the presentations this year have been really well supported. I think we’ve got a good balance now.”

Visitors that spoke with Jeweller made a point of saying that having international guest speakers such as Nielsen and Julie Sandlau president Dennis Sandlau-Jacobsen in the schedule had been a draw card for attending the show.

Roving musicians performing on the floor was another additional feature this year as was the inaugural Jewellery Design and Manufacturing Championships, which drew much interest from visitors.

The contest, which was based on a similar initiative in the US, required local jewellers to complete certain tasks based on a brief issued on the first day of the fair. Contestants undertook their challenges on the fair floor across day one and two. There were four categories with the overall champions being announced on the last day of the fair. The winners for 2015 are listed below:

Jeweller – Ben Preston-Black

CAD technician – Shaun Staples

Hand engraver – Chris O’Neill

Setter – Dean Sansom

Buying group awards

All three buying groups also hosted annual member dinners where local designers, retailers and suppliers were awarded for their achievements. The winners are listed below:

Leading Edge

Member excellence – My Jewellers

Member of the year – Regency Group

Store of the year – Andrew Ralph’s Diamond Jewellers

Supplier excellence – Mark McAskill Jewellery

Supplier of the year – Duraflex Group Australia

Nationwide Jewellers

Supplier of the year – Peka Agencies (NZ), Jewellery Centre (Aus)

Member of the year – Cambridge Jewellers (NZ), Seaspray Valuations & Fine Jewellery (Aus)

Showcase Jewellers

Retailer of the Year – Watson’s Jewellers

Supplier of the Year – Mark McAskill Jewellery

The Nationwide event also featured a special presentation for prominent New Zealand jewellery industry figure Doug Erkkila. The 87-year-old, who joined Nationwide in 1993 and was largely responsible for helping to build the buying group’s presence in New Zealand, will retire – for the third time – at the end of this year.

The sun was shining over Sydney on all three days of the event, and according to general consensus, the mood inside the venue was equally bright.

As is often the case, attendance numbers on the final day appeared lower than the first two days; however, those present on the Monday were serious buyers, with many seeking to avoid the weekend crowds.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as Jeweller brings further post-IJF coverage and announcements regarding the upcoming JAA Jewellery Trade Days.

Pallion won the award for best large stand
Pallion won the award for best large stand
Dennis Sandlau-Jacobsen, Julie Sandlau president
Dennis Sandlau-Jacobsen, Julie Sandlau president

The Jewellery Design and Manufacturing Championships
The Jewellery Design and Manufacturing Championships
Doug Erkkila
Doug Erkkila's contribution to the industry was celebrated at the Nationwide members dinner

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