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International Jewellery Fair: The inside scoop

The 2017 IJF has concluded with the organiser and exhibitors delivering on the promise of exciting new initiatives but was it enough to unite the industry? EMILY MOBBS reports.

Expectations were high leading into this year’s International Jewellery Fair (IJF): the event, which took place from Saturday August 26 to Monday August 28, was returning to Darling Harbour following the three-year, billion-dollar redevelopment of the International Convention Centre; it was being supported by Australia’s three buying groups; and it boasted a record number of exhibitors compared to figures of recent years.

There was also no denying that it’s been a difficult year in the local industry – for numerous reasons – and there was an underlying sense of anticipation that the IJF would inject some much-needed optimism into the trade.

While many of the 200 exhibitors were still processing orders at the time of writing, Gary Fitz-Roy, managing director of fair organiser Expertise Events, said feedback was so far positive.

“While the quality of the retailers that attended was brilliant and they were ready to purchase new products, the attendance of retailers seemed down and that was disappointing.”
Darren Roberts, Cudworth Enterprises Director

Fitz-Roy also explained that visitor numbers were not finalised at the time of publication; however, early indications suggested an increase on the past year when the fair was held at the Sydney Exhibition Centre at Glebe Island.

Colin Pocklington, managing director of Australia and New Zealand’s largest buying group Nationwide Jewellers, said the attendance numbers of his members exceeded predictions; an additional 80 unregistered jewellers attended the group’s morning briefing on the Saturday.

Fitz-Roy and Pocklington’s comments aside, many exhibitors expected more foot traffic across the three days.

“While the quality of the retailers that attended was brilliant and they were ready to purchase new products, the attendance of retailers seemed down and that was disappointing,” Cudworth Enterprises director Darren Roberts said.

Phil Edwards, managing director of Duraflex Group Australia (DGA), had similar sentiments: “I have no specific figures to back this up, it is just a hunch, but it felt like there was less foot traffic. I would have expected more visitors, especially given the new venue.”

Indeed, exhibitors seemed excited about the ‘you beaut’ venue, with a generous number presenting fresh stand designs and fit outs.

Edwards explained that his team went to great efforts to develop a fun and interactive stand this year.

DGA was awarded best large stand
DGA was awarded best large stand

“We took the ‘fair’ concept quite literally by staging a carnival-themed space complete with rotating clown heads, popcorn and ice-cream,” he said.

The booth generated much hype and was awarded the Best Large Stand award by Expertise Events.

Supplier Ichu embraced its Mexican roots and was crowned the Best Small Stand award, while industry veteran Peter Beck said he was excited to introduce a modern stand design for his namesake business.

Of course, a flashy stand isn’t everything and as is traditionally the case, suppliers with fresh product – there were also about 50 first-time exhibitors – received the bulk of visitor interest.

A new area on the floor, called The Village, was developed by the show organiser in an attempt to showcase contemporary local and international designs. It appeared to strike a chord as it was noticeably full of people across the three days.

The Village was just one of the value-adds developed to enhance the visitor experience in 2017. A comprehensive schedule of retail-focused seminars took place, along with the Victorian, Western Australian and Queensland regional Worldskills jewellery competitions.

“This year we found new product that I am sure will boost our Christmas sales.”
Judy Cameron, Retailer of Cameron’s Fine Jewellers in Swan Hill, Victoria

From a retailer perspective, Judy Cameron of Cameron’s Fine Jewellers in Swan Hill, Victoria, said she was impressed with the product offerings on show.

“We found new product at the fair, which is what we are always looking for. Last year I left the fair a bit flat because everything looked the same, but this year we found new product that I am sure will boost our Christmas sales,” she said.

“For a lot of rural retailers, the fair is a time that brings jewellers from all over Australia and New Zealand together. Talking with suppliers and other jewellers brings a balance to our business and makes you realise we are all facing new challenges,” Cameron added.

Yes, the local industry is not without its challenges; however, the IJF showed that there is plenty of opportunity to band together in order to strengthen the trade in the lead up to Christmas and beyond. So who’s up for it?

Buying group accolades
Ichu was crowned best small stand
Ichu was crowned best small stand

The 2017 International Jewellery Fair provided an ideal opportunity for Australia and New Zealand’s three buying groups to meet with members and preferred suppliers.

Each group hosted various activities during the trade show as well as in the days prior, with the most entertaining events arguably being the annual member dinners that celebrated industry achievements.

Leading Edge Group Jewellers had its Diamond Awards evening at Doltone House, Hyde Park, while Nationwide Jewellers hosted a party at the Cockle Bay Room in the new International Convention Centre.

The Showcase Jewellers masquerade ball, held in conjunction with the JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards, took place at Sheraton on the Park.

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


Member Excellence
Aspire Jewellery (left)
Member of the Year
Regency Group
Store of the Year
Jim Hughes & Sons
Supplier Excellence
La Couronne Jewellery (right)
Supplier of the Year
Duraflex Group Australia



Member of the Year
The Gem Cave – AUS (left)
Jamies Jewellers – NZ
Supplier of the Year
Jewellery Centre – AUS (right)
Peka Agencies – NZ
Apprentice of the Year
Ryan Kitchen (Diamond Boutique)




Retailer of the Year
Kennedy’s Showcase Jewellers (Left)
Supplier of the Year
Jewellery Centre – AUS (right)


Emily Mobbs • Former Editor

Emily Mobbs is editor of Jeweller. She has more than 8 years' experience in trade publishing and reports on various aspects of the jewellery industry.

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