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Editor's Desk

Buying groups are right to unite

In what can only be described as a big step forward, both Showcase Jewellers and Leading Edge Jewellers have decided to collaborate with Expertise Events and incorporate their annual conferences and buying days into the International Jewellery & Watch Fair (IJWF).

Traditionally both groups have organised their events to take place a few days prior to the Sydney trade show.

Unlike Nationwide Jewellers, which has always organised its educational program and buying days to be conducted on the actual fair floor, Showcase and Leading Edge held their activities off-site a few days beforehand, hoping that their members would stay on to attend the trade show proper.

The fact that suppliers to both groups would have their costs doubled and even tripled by having to attend the groups’ annual events – at different locations – as well as the Sydney fair, was an ongoing issue.

It’s been a major bone of contention for many years, because not only did suppliers incur multiple event costs, as well as flights and accommodation, staff would be out of the office for extended periods of time. And while suppliers have grumbled about the inefficiency and inconvenience for sometime, to a large extent they put up with it in the good times.

However as trading conditions weakened, the suppliers’ voices got louder until grumbling became full-on complaints. That was especially true when the buying groups were not getting their members showing up to their own conferences in large numbers as they had previously.

Something had to give. With the divide in the industry over the past three years, it was most welcome news that, for the first time since its inception, the Sydney trade fair will feature all three buying groups on the floor with their respective educational and training programs being conducted at the same time.

"The upshot was that two jewellery design competitions were held in 2017 and two will take place again this year."

The news was obviously welcomed by the suppliers who can ill-afford unnecessary costs in the current business climate. Every dollar and effort needs to go into reinvigorating the industry so the new arrangements will go a long way towards a more harmonious and focused attitude.

The same attitude would also be ideal when it comes to industry awards. I remember a time when 600 to 800 people would gather at the Sydney Town Hall for the Australian Jewellery Awards. The talents of our homegrown designers and jewellers were put on show at a gala industry event.

Sadly times have changed, and worse, we now have two competing jewellery design awards: the incumbent JAA Australian Design Awards and the new, larger, Jewellery Design Awards promoted by Expertise Events and showcased at the IJWF.

While that’s not ideal, it’s worse because, while both are biennial events, they take place in the same year!

The clash came about when Expertise Events decided to launch a new style of jewellery design competition in the ‘odd’ years; the JAA’s competition had always been in ‘even’ years. However, in 2016 the JAA failed to secure support for its event and postponed it, deciding to hold it the following year.

The upshot was that two jewellery design competitions were held in 2017 and two will take place again this year.

That now causes new problems because the obvious sponsors for such an industry event are being asked to support two events at the same time – while there is no event the following year. And while sponsors do so as a way to support emerging talent, it seems rather silly to have two events at the same time one year and none the next.

The obvious solution is for the JAA to go back to their even year competition and have the Expertise Events competition in the odd year.

Even better still would be to have one event every year, with the JAA working with Expertise Events to promote the wonderful and talented jewellery designers Australia has to offer.

Forget a big step forward – that would be a giant leap!


More reading:
Showcase adds buying days at Sydney Fair
Buying groups unite for 2019 Sydney Jewellery Fair

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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