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Sydney jewellery fair highs and lows

Trading at the 2016 International Jewellery Fair (IJF) reflected tough market conditions but EMILY MOBBS reports the presence of fresh products, initiatives and international visitors should boost optimism.

Results from this year’s IJF, which ran from Saturday August 27 to Monday August 29, were arguably always going to be varied given the difficult retail landscape.

As Gary Fitz-Roy, managing director of fair organiser Expertise Events, explained: “Like all fairs, some exhibitors do better than others. There hasn’t been a show yet where everyone does well and this year wasn’t a lot different. I think there is equally an appreciation that the market is currently tough.”

Adding to this was Colin Pocklington, managing director of Australia and New Zealand’s largest buying group Nationwide Jewellers, who said his member attendance was down on previous years.

“[Retail] Trading has been flat for the last three months and I think this was reflected in the attendance,” he commented. “We registered 400 people this year compared to 440 last year.”

Pocklington and Fitz-Roy noted, however, that several exhibitors – spanning a range of product categories – recorded strong sales, with some having had their best fair in many years.

Watch supplier West End Collection was one business that reported positive trading, with general manager John Rose telling Jeweller that more sales were conducted by midday on Sunday than the total sales made during the 2015 event.

Rose identified the Olivia Burton women’s range, which had its official debut at the fair, along with the Christian Paul Sydney collection as performing particularly well.

While Duraflex Group Australia (DGA) managing director Phil Edwards said it felt as though the overall number of visitors was lower than previous years, his new ranges on display received excellent attention, interest and orders.

DGA generated hype in the lead up to the trade show having acquired a number of watch brands including Roamer, Police and Jag as well as an interchangeable French jewellery range called Les Georgettes.

Les Georgettes president Eric Lefranc attended the first two days of the show to introduce the collection to Australian and New Zealand retailers.

“I am only here for one and a half days but it was important for me to come to meet the DGA team and the Australian retailers,” Lefranc said. “Australia is a very important market for us.” He added that the offering had expanded into 12 countries since launching in September 2015.

Representatives from German-based Engelsrufer and Dutch-based Nikki Lissoni, also distributed by DGA, were in Sydney for the fair too.

Duraflex Group Australia watch stands
Duraflex Group Australia watch stands
2016 Melbourne Cup
2016 Melbourne Cup

Roaming performers
Roaming performers
Visitors at the fair
Visitors at the fair

Nikki Lissoni managing director Caspar Assmann stated he was surprised by the upbeat sentiment of retailers. “Prior to the fair, I had heard that it [local retail market] had been tough but I am surprised by the positive response,” he commented.

Another international visitor was Robbie Smith, sales manager of the new sterling silver jewellery line by high-profile brand Waterford Crystal. Smith, who was presenting the range in conjunction with local distributor Nordic Jewellery, said he had high hopes the range would be successful Down Under.

“The Australian market is very similar to that of Ireland [Waterford’s place of origin] and we are confident that the range will do very well in the hands of Nordic Jewellery,” Smith added.

While he didn’t travel overseas to attend the show, another special guest at the fair was Commando Steve of The Biggest Loser fame. The fitness trainer is an ambassador for Garmin and was at the exhibitor’s stand on Sunday to launch a new range of smartwatches.

Garmin sales representative Emilio De Ingeniis said the IJF was Garmin’s first push into the jewellery market. “We’re happy that we now have a quality, refined product and we have gained much insight from being here,” he stated, adding, “Having Commando Steve obviously helped to create a bit of excitement for the brand.”

As is traditionally the case, suppliers releasing new products and initiatives typically drew visitor attention. 

Karin Adcock, CEO of Alex and Ani local distributor House of Brands, noted that the brand’s ‘shop-in-shop’ concept launched at the fair had proven popular.

“Retailers are loving the shop-in-shop furniture,” Adcock said. “One customer even asked if they could take it home straight away.”

She added the supplier, which also introduced its Charity by Design initiative ahead of an official launch the following month, had appointed several new retailers. 

When speaking with Jeweller on Sunday, Worth & Douglas head of marketing and sales Chris Worth said the long-time New Zealand-based exhibitor had been “flat out”.

Oozoo Timepieces, Hipp
Oozoo Timepieces, Hipp
Caspar Assmann, Nikki Lissoni managing director
Caspar Assmann, Nikki Lissoni managing director

Karen Walker Jewellery
Karen Walker Jewellery
The Independent Retailer
The Independent Retailer's Conference

He added the latest collection from Karen Walker Jewellery, of which the supplier is the local distributor, had performed really well and the brand’s new marketing campaign featuring the hands of mature-age models was a talking point among visitors.

The stands of other long-time exhibitors such as Paterson Fine Jewellery, Pallion, Bolton Gems and Ice Australasia also appeared to attract a vast number of visitors.

In fact, Paterson Fine Jewellery chairman Ross Paterson said that although visitor numbers were lower than expected, the 2016 fair was one of the best for the supplier in many years.

New kids on the block

The IJF played host to about 30 first-time exhibitors and one that received significant attention was US-based diamond jewellery manufacturer SK Diamonds.

“We are very happy with the results from this fair,” SK Diamonds operations manager Darshit Chokshi stated. “Saturday and Sunday were really busy but Monday morning has been a little slow, which is to be expected at trade fairs – the last day is normally slow,” he added at the time.

SK Diamonds exhibits at trade shows in the US, UK, Canada and Mexico, and when asked why the business decided to target Australia, Chokshi said: “We have a loyal Australian customer from JCK Las Vegas and so we thought it would work well.”

Hipp, local distributor of fashion watch ranges Oozoo Timepieces and Dukudu, was also a first-time exhibitor with a stand that appeared to be busy across the three days. Hipp managing director David Faraday said he was very pleased with his first attendance at the fair.

Meanwhile William MacMahon, managing director of men’s jewellery supplier The Russell Collection, was another exhibitor who said that while visitor numbers may have been less than expected, quality buyers were present.

Supporting the industry

In addition to the business transactions between suppliers and retailers, a number of activities aimed at educating and supporting the industry took place on the show floor.

Kicking off the three-day fair was a ‘Winning Breakfast’ hosted by Pallion. The event was held in recognition of the supplier’s subsidiary ABC Bullion, which was awarded a five-year contract in 2015 to produce the Melbourne Cup.

Worth & Douglas
Worth & Douglas
Introducing the 2016  Melbourne Cup
Introducing the 2016 Melbourne Cup

Those in attendance were given an up-close-and-personal view of the cup and had the chance to watch a short film explaining the processes involved in manufacturing the trophy, which comprised 1.65 kg of 18-carat gold and is valued at $175,000.

Speaking at the breakfast, Pallion CEO Andrew Cochineas said the appointment was significant because it helped to preserve the skills of the local jewellery and precious metals industries – the Melbourne Cup is mined, refined and manufactured in Australia.

The Jewellery Design and Manufacturing Championships was another initiative designed to celebrate the trade. Situated on the fair floor, competitors were required to produce jewellery pieces in front of a live audience in a set timeframe. Two apprentice jewellers and WorldSkills Australia competitors were also given a dedicated space to demonstrate their talents.

Other activities such as the panel discussion Natural vs Synthetic diamonds – the impact on our industry (See page 31) and the National Independent Retailer’s Conference were aimed at educating jewellers on various aspects of the industry to help improve business. 

The last day of the IJF is typically quieter than the first two and although this was true for many exhibitors, Ken Abbott, managing director of Coeur de Lion local distributor Timesupply, said Monday trading was the “best” he could remember. One could also observe several people at the Najo stand 10  minutes prior to close on Monday.

While the 2016 IJF took place against a difficult retail backdrop it would appear as though the local industry isn’t one to give up and many exhibitors did much better than expected. The key message of the suppliers that had a successful trade fair was that they had invested in marketing and promotion leading up to the event.

This year could be considered the end of an era, given it marked the last time the IJF would be held at the temporary Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island. It will move to the re-developed International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour in 2017.

2016 honours board

Australia and New Zealand’s three buying groups used the Sydney International Jewellery Fair (IJF) as an opportunity to host a range of activities for members.

Various events took place during the IJF and in the days preceding it; however, a highlight was arguably each group’s annual member gala dinner. These evenings were a celebration of the industry and not only provided a break from the hustle and bustle of the trading days but acknowledged retailers and suppliers for achieving business excellence throughout the year.

‘Dream big’ was the theme of Leading Edge Group Jewellers’ Diamond Awards event, which took place at The Grounds of Alexandria. Showcase Jewellers hosted a black tie dinner at Doltone House, Hyde Park, while Nationwide Jewellers celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Grand Ballroom at Four Points by Sharaton, Darling Harbour.

In addition to its existing accolades, Nationwide introduced the Nic Morrison Rising Star Award. The award recognises young people who show interest and potential to further their industry education and knowledge and is in memory of the late Nic Morrison, son of Nationwide members Brent and Lisa Morrison.

Below is a list of some of the winners from the three award evenings.


Leading Edge Group Jewellers

Member of the year
Regency Group (pictured top)

Supplier of the year
Duraflex Group Australia

Store of the year
Forever Jewellers (pictured bottom)

Member excellence
Phil Peel Leading Edge Jewellers

Supplier excellence
West End Collection



Nationwide Jewellers

Member of the year
Penrith Jewellery Workshop – AUS
Bates Watchmakers – NZ (pictured top)

Supplier of the year
Jewellery Centre – AUS
Regal Castings – NZ

Apprentice of the Year
Mikaela Donovan (Georgie’s Fine Jewellery) (pictured bottom)

Nic Morrison Rising Star Award
Alicia Platje (Precious Metals)



Showcase Jewellers

Retailer of the year
Duffs Jewellers (pictured top)

Supplier of the year
La Couronne Jewellery (pictured bottom)

Duraflex Group Australia

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