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Fairs and Events

Sydney Jewellery Fair: Uniting an industry

The fair’s organisers said IJF succeeded in drawing stakeholders together in an attempt to reunite the industry in light of economic hardship.

Expertise Events managing director Gary Fitz-Roy, organiser of IJF, said visitor attendance “lifted across the Saturday and Sunday”, while the keynote seminars drew crowds in the afternoons.

“Overall, we finished in double-digit growth which is pleasing, but it [visitors] is only one measure. While the numbers are important I think the real shift was around buying and the positive attitude from both retailers and exhibitors. The industry needs to start looking a lot more at the glass half full, as all business is challenging, but it is what you make of it,” he said.

Fitz-Roy said the increase in visitor numbers should be kept in context given the JAA’s attempt last year to launch a competing trade show on the same dates as the IJF.

“While I am surprised at the real increase, I think we need to keep it in context. Last year there was a lot of controversy around there being two trade shows and the industry divided. That in itself was quite negative despite it being resolved going into the fair,” he said.

After the JAA cancelled its proposed trade fair last year, Fitz-Roy said Expertise Events was still working to reunite the “divided” industry.

“I think retail has done it tough for a few years and sooner or later you need to get on with running the business, and the Fair represents the most time and cost-effective way to view what’s new and buy in a concise way,” he said.

Nationwide Jewellers managing director Colin Pocklington said the buying group experienced increased attendance on last year with 391 members from 158 stores accounted for.

“It surprised us because with the economy being so poor we expected less people but we got more. Last year we registered 147 stores. We put a lot of effort into our programme and we marketed to people all of the things we were doing across marketing, workshops and social events. I suppose the sum of those events appealed to a lot of people,” he said.

Pocklington said many members utilised Nationwide’s six months interest free financing scheme to place store orders of $25,000 to $50,000 per store.

“I think probably because trading has been a bit tough lately, more members used our finance than usual. It supports our preferred suppliers on the floor as well, so it works for both suppliers and our members,” he said.

Many exhibitors also reported a successful weekend. Ikecho Pearls director Erica Madsen said she experienced the industry’s reformation through the interactions made at her stand and that she would “be exhibiting at the Fair again next year.”

Aztec Gold & Silver
Aztec Gold & Silver

Les Georgettes
Les Georgettes
TVD Showcase
TVD Showcase

“We found the Fair was consistent across the whole three days, there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic, but the buyers that came were serious buyers and wanting to be there to order stock,” she said.

“We didn’t hear much negative talk, which was refreshing.”

Rachel Maunder, senior sales marketing manager of Gerrim International said the team did not exhibit last year, however it did receive positive feedback from visitors at the event.

“The people who did come to our stand were definitely there to purchase from us. There wasn’t much foot traffic but we found we were consistent across all three days,” she said.

“I found that the retailers were really confident in buying and were confident in our product. They knew what they wanted or if we did have to get them over the line it wasn’t that they were worried about it not selling.”

Fabuleux Vous director Helen Thompson-Carter said while the Fair was smaller than in previous years, the New Zealand-based business experienced susbtantial growth on last year, processing an estimated four times as many orders.

“We had an outstanding Fair and while we had a very good fair last year, we did manage to quadruple our results this year. It’s probably the best fair we’ve ever had and I think it’s a classic case of less is more,” she explained.

“While the Fair was very small, I thought it consisted of the same degree of quality from exhibitors. We know from the half empty glass point of view that there are a lot of stores closing in New Zealand and Australia, but what that means is that like most other industries, the jewellery industry is just consolidating.”

Thompson-Carter stressed that retailers who did attend the Fair benefited from getting an insight into upcoming industry trends.

“The really good retailers will continue to go from strength to strength, but those that choose not to embrace digitalisation, social media and the smaller design-driven different brands, and unique pieces of jewellery as an art form, will slowly and consistently disappear,” she said.

Cudworth Enterprises director Darren Roberts said retailers needed to make an effort in attending the IJF to ensure its success for years to come.

“Without the support of the retailers and the foot traffic, the Fair will disappear, as it has in other industries. Jewellery fairs in general overseas in Italy, England and Hong Kong have all scaled down because they’re not getting the support from retailers.”

Lester Brand, managing director of Lester Brand Jewellery said he hadn’t exhibited at the Fair in years and said he was “happy to be back at the event”.

“We were able to catch up with some customers who we don’t see very often because they are from some of our rural areas, so that was good,” Brand said.

“We will certainly be there again next year. But from a more globalised perspective, I would have to say I thought the attendance was quite low compared to some years ago. I accept our economic conditions at the moment are quite challenging and our federal politics don’t help, but I think, as an industry, we should be working a little bit harder to support the event.”

Alluding to the buying group’s pre-fair events, Brand said: “Some circumstances lead retailers to be pulled away from the Fair and I think we need to consider what is best for our industry, and then we may have a better Fair in future years that’s also better for retailers and suppliers alike. Given that the industry is not in the boom times, as it once was, I believe the model of individual group buying days is over, it doesn’t work as well as it once did, for either the supplier or the retailers.”

Paterson Fine Jewellery managing director David Paterson noticed the swell of visitors on the Saturday taper off on the Sunday afternoon and recognised the support of buying group members’ at the event.

“This year was surprisingly good, especially considering we weren’t optimistic about the amount of buying group members who might attend event at Darling Harbour. At the end of the day many supported the Fair regardless of their own buying group trade day, so it was a good weekend for us,” he said.

“I don’t see the need any longer for the group buying days before the Sydney Trade Fair. A better result for suppliers would see all groups reverting back to the Nationwide model where seminars and presentations are done at the Fair rather than at their own events offsite and many days before the IJF. It brings everyone together and unites the industry. Group buying days are terrific events at earlier times during the year however.”

“The groups should know that the suppliers will have the same deals at the Sydney Fair as they do at the pre-fair buying group days, and that way it will reduce replication and save everyone – including their members – a lot of time and money.”

While the aforementioned consolidation and reuniting of the industry appears to be in its early days, those who did visit the event appeared to be proactive in placing orders, as was the case for Timesupply’s Ken Abbott.

“We found our retailers had very positive attitudes and were ordering freely and asking for orders to be delivered as soon as possible,” he said.

Duraflex Group Australia managing director Phil Edwards said it was the attitude of visitors that dictated the overall atmosphere of the event.

“Retailers that did attend appeared more focused with a clear plan and direction on how they will be moving forward. There was less general review and consideration in their interactions as they were more focused on either ordering or moving on to their next meeting,” he stated.

These sentiments were reiterated by Worth and Douglas director Chris Worth: “Overall we found the attitude to be very positive and we always see good uptake in ordering new products in the lead up to Christmas.”

“It’s always a great event for launching new releases and our latest collections were well received,” Worth said.

The 2019 event has been scheduled for 24-26 August.

World Shiner
World Shiner

Sam's Group Australia

Peter W Beck
Peter W Beck

Award winners bask in glory

The three buying groups across Australia and New Zealand celebrated their members’ achievements with awards ceremonies at the International Jewellery Fair as well as at independent conferences. Nationwide Jewellers held its celebratory dinner at ICC Sydney on Sunday 25 August, where it commemorated 20 years of travel to Antwerp for diamond buying and 25 years of business in New Zealand.

Leading Edge Group Jewellers hosted a three-day conference in the Hunter Valley ahead of the IJF. Managing director Joshua Zarb said the buying group’s awards ceremony was a highlight of the event with Ted Pevy recognised for his lifetime achievement to the group, with a portrait painted in his honour.

Showcase Jewellers celebrated its retailers and suppliers at a conference gala dinner where Loloma Jewellers’ Graham Jackson was celebrated for his long-term commitment to the buying group. From now on the Retailer of the Year award will be known as the Graham Jackson Retailer of the Year Award.


Member of the year
Regency Group

Store of the year
Australia: Jim Hughes and Sons NZ: Dinsdale Jewellers

Lifetime achievement award
Ted Pevy Jewellery Centre (top left)

Supplier of the year
Diamonds & Gemstones: La Couronne
Precious Metals: Jewellery Centre
Watches: Seiko
Silver, Fashion & Branded Jewellery: Duraflex Group Australia (bottom left)



Member of the year
Australia: Springfield Jewellers, Springfield, QLD (top left)
NZ: Country Jewel, Winton

Supplier of the year
Australia: Jewellery Centre (bottom left)
NZ: Peka Agencies

Apprentice of the year
Mikaela Donovan, Georgies Fine Jewellery, Narooma, NSW

Rising star award
Erica Seath, Georgies Fine Jewellery, Narooma, NSW


Retailer of the year
Keoghans Showcase Jewellers, NZ (top left)
Supplier of the year
Honorary award
Graham Jackson, Loloma Jewellers (top right)


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