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International Jewellery Fair: Change is inevitable, progress is optional

In the blink of an eye, the International Jewellery Fair has come and gone for another year with exhibitors and visitors alike departing Darling Harbour with a clearer picture of the state of the industry.

The opening day was enthusiastically frantic, with visitors spilling through the entrance to take in the latest products and designs.

At 5 pm when the traditional happy hour commenced in the centre of the venue, one could be forgiven for expecting the trading to slow; however, spirited negotiations continued with a glass of champagne.

Gary Fitz-Roy, Expertise Events
Gary Fitz-Roy, Expertise Events
“If you’re not on their list, you need to be ready to tempt them with a product, a display, or an offer that gives them the competitive edge they won’t find elsewhere.”
Gary Fitz-Roy, Expertise Events

The opening hour of the second day was quiet as is typical for a Sunday; however, it wasn’t long before the floor fair was full again, with ordering continuing into the afternoon.

The third day began with a typical relaxed atmosphere; however, as the clock ticked down and the closure of the fair drew near, a surge in last-minute enquiries and orders kept many busy.

Expertise Events managing director Gary Fitz-Roy said that the changing nature of the industry and the multi-dimensional role that trade shows play for different participants were important insights.

“The common theme we’ve heard all weekend has been about change, and I smile when I hear that because it feels like we’ve been talking about this with our exhibitors for years. Businesses need to be willing to change or they risk being left behind,” he told Jeweller.

“Fairs serve multiple purposes for different people and after the pandemic, it’s clear that a large component of these events for many people is personal engagement and relationship building. Sales are always the core objective, but it’s really about connection.”

Fitz-Roy added that buyers have changed their approach to trade shows in recent years and said that suppliers needed to be flexible to meet new demands. 

“Retailers are clearly coming to these events with a refined strategy. They’re coming with more knowledge and research than ever before because they can ill afford to overspend in this climate,” he explained.

“They’ve done their research. If you’re not on their list, you need to be ready to tempt them with a product, a display, or an offer that gives them the competitive edge they won’t find elsewhere.”

Hot demand

In the final minutes of the Sydney Fair, one supplier was notably jubilant – Timesupply and its managing director Ken Abbott.

“This would be close to a record year for us, it’s really been an incredible fair. We are somewhat overwhelmed to be completely honest,” he told Jeweller.

“You always hope for the best, but I don’t think we could’ve anticipated that things would go this well. Every brand that we represent has been well received.

Ken Abbott, Timesupply
Ken Abbott, Timesupply
“You always hope for the best, but I don’t think we could’ve anticipated that things would go this well. Every brand that we represent has been well received.”
Ken Abbott, Timesupply

“I think that Expertise Events, as well as Nationwide Jewellers and the IJC (Independent Jewellers Collective), have done a fantastic job.”

In the lead-up to the fair, Timesupply had identified Danish brand Sif Jakobs Jewellery as one brand likely to shine in the spotlight.

“Sif Jakobs has been fantastic. We’re thrilled with not only the number of orders we’ve received but also the feedback from visitors,” Abbott added.

The importance of presentation at trade shows was highlighted by the popularity of Ikecho, which received praise from visitors and fellow suppliers for its stand design.

Ikecho CEO Erica Miller said that the Sydney Fair reinforced the popularity of Australian gemstones such as opals and pearls.

“We’ve received a lot of compliments about our stand which is really pleasing for everyone to hear. We are really happy with the design, we feel like it says a lot about who are and what we do,” Miller said.

“Over the past 12 months or so we’ve had a new focus on opals and the feedback we’ve had about our jewellery has made it clear that we are heading in the right direction.”

It was an action-packed fair for Duraflex Group Australia (DGA), with new offerings from both watch and jewellery brands proving popular with retailers.

DGA recently partnered with Swedish brand Daniel Wellington and managing director Phil Edwards said his staff was taken aback by how in-demand the brand was.

“The IJF was very well-organised again this year. While market conditions are challenging, the retailers attending were positive and open to buying and considering new brands,” he said.

“With Daniel Wellington, retailers really embraced the opportunity to take on the brand, and existing retail partners were very positive about the latest collection.”

Greville Ingham, Becks
Greville Ingham, Becks
“From a show perspective, this year was about polishing the groundwork we’ve laid in the past 12 months."
Greville Ingham, BECKS Group

Duraflex also introduced a new collection of lab-created diamond jewellery.

“Our lab-created diamonds were well-received, and definitely exceeded expectations – due to the competitive pricing and quality of product,” Edwards explained.

“We also received positive feedback about the product development over the past 12 months for JAG, and there was strong interest from key retailers concerning EDOX.”

As mentioned, change and evolution were important talking points among visitors and suppliers and for BECKS, this year’s fair was about reinforcing the significance of the company’s re-brand last year.

BECKS managing director Greville Ingham said that he was proud of the effort his staff displayed on the trade show floor and during the preparation for the event.

“From a show perspective, this year was about polishing the groundwork we’ve laid in the past 12 months,” he said.

“We came out last year with a renewed strong brand image and said ‘hey, we’re still here.’ This year it was about making it clear that we are upholding the pillars of our business - quality, flexibility, and innovation.”

Nearby at Palloys, visitors were thrilled with the exhibitor’s promotional events – with the opportunity to hold the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup and gold bullion proving popular yet again.

 



 
International perspective

It was a mixed bag for the fair’s international exhibitors – with some reporting strong sales, while others struggled to get a foot in the door with local retailers.

Phil Edwards
Phil Edwards
“While market conditions are challenging, the retailers attending were positive and open to buying and considering new brands.”
Phil Edwards, Duraflex Group

Retailers can feel reluctant to deal with international exhibitors who haven’t taken the time to showcase their products properly and/or advertise and promote their presence at the event.

Among those happy with their reception in Australia were Diamonds On Call, which was constantly busy with visitors eager to learn more about their platform.

“The changing nature of the jewellery industry has been an important talking point among visitors,” CEO Harshil Shah said.

“The aim of everything we do is to make business easier for retailers, and it’s great to have the opportunity to explain that in person.”

Fitz-Roy said that international exhibitors needed to be mindful of the market conditions for buyers.

“I think what was clear for the international exhibitors was that Australian retailers are very wary of doing business abroad for a variety of reasons - whether it be because of supply chain concerns, or simply a lack of familiarity with the supplier,” he said.

“Australians want to do business with companies that are willing to invest in the local industry by having a presence for three or four years. It’s about so much more than the prices or the quality of your product.”

Gemstones galore

When it comes to colour gemstones, two exhibitors were in the spotlight. 

William Gant, LJ West Australia
William Gant, LJ West Australia
“We’ve made a lot of quality connections at the Sydney Fair and we’re grateful for the networking opportunities we’ve had.”
William Gant, LJ West

In 2021, SAMS Group acquired more than 400,000 carats of Australian rough sapphire at an auction in Thailand with plans for the launch of a major new collection.

Two years later, the Sapphire Dreams collection was a roaring success with visitors and CEO Steve Der Bedrossian was elated to see the hard yards pay off.

“We are over the moon. Sapphire Dreams has been a labour of love for us for the past two years, we identified it as a category where we could bring something new, original, and fresh in terms of design and at this fair, all that hard work has paid off,” he said.

“It’s a collection we are incredibly proud of and the feedback we’ve received has been very positive – retailers love the design, the colour, and the overall feel of our new releases.”

Nearby at the LJ West exhibit, the emphasis was on unique and rare diamonds. The company has spent the past two years hoping to raise the profile of fancy colour diamonds in Australia.

This included a partnership with Museums Victoria and a showcase of one of the world’s largest collections of fancy colour diamonds, including the iconic Argyle Violet.

Managing director William Gant said it was ‘mission accomplished’.

“We’ve achieved what we set out to do – making sure that these remarkable diamonds have a presence in the Australian jewellery industry,” he said.

“We’ve made a lot of quality connections at the Sydney Fair and we’re grateful for the networking opportunities we’ve had. Our goal has always been to make sure these diamonds are well-known and to educate the market on what we do and what we offer.”

Strength in numbers
Glen Pocklington, general manager Nationwide Jewellers
Glen Pocklington, general manager Nationwide Jewellers
“Our suppliers are happy and the members are happy, and that’s what matters to us at the end of the day.”
Glen Pocklington, Nationwide Jewellers

The Sydney Fair is a vital opportunity for the industry’s buying groups to work one-on-one with members.

Nationwide Jewellers general manager Glen Pocklington said that the importance of major industry gatherings had been reinforced.

“We had a really good turnout on Saturday, with around 150 members attending our morning briefing which was fantastic,” he said,

“The numbers on the floor have looked good. From what we’ve been told by suppliers, it seems like the foot traffic was slightly down, but the sales were strong.”

Pocklington said that a number of suppliers who had participated in the annual Nationwide Timeout Conference in Fiji in May had reported that interactions at that event had led to orders at the Sydney Fair. 

“Our suppliers are happy and the members are happy, and that’s what matters to us at the end of the day,” he said.

“Maybe there’s some lag in the market, perhaps some hesitancy for the retailers given the economy, but these kinds of events are still very important.

"Having the opportunity to meet face-to-face and build connections is vital because you never know what’s going to change a few months down the track.”

The feedback was similar from IJC CEO Josh Zarb, who said that he was overwhelmed with the feedback he has received from visitors.

“From our perspective, it’s been a sensational weekend. We’ve met far more new people than we were expecting,” he said.

"We’ve spoken to some really good storeowners at this fair and we’re excited to see how those interactions evolve.

Josh Zarb, Independent Jewellers Collective
Josh Zarb, Independent Jewellers Collective
"Whether it be the proportions and layout, the ‘vibe’ or atmosphere, the promotions and special events, and the attitudes of participants, it’s been fantastic.”
Joshua Zarb, IJC

“I’ve been coming to the Sydney Fair for the past 20 years and everything about this show was positive. Whether it be the proportions and layout, the ‘vibe’ or atmosphere, the promotions and special events, and the attitudes of participants, it’s been fantastic.”

See you soon!

With the local jewellery industry’s largest annual gathering completed for another year, the attention for Expertise Events turns to 2024.

Fitz-Roy said that there were a number of lessons to reflect on between now and then.

“The feedback from retailers has been interesting, after 40 years you get to know a lot of names and faces and it was pleasing to run into a few people I haven’t seen for a decade or so,” he said.

“They liked the cross-section of the exhibitors on the floor and talked about the expense associated with doing business overseas, which was a good reminder of what these events are really about.

“It’s a commercial exercise. It’s not about the giveaways, or grabbing a free drink at happy hour. That’s all window dressing. I think everyone who focused on the right areas and most importantly, has shown that they’re willing to change with the times, has gone home happy.”

Expertise Events is expected to finalise plans for next year’s industry events in the coming days, including a number of new innovations.

 

 

 

A GREAT TURN OF EVENTS

Becks Group.
Becks Group.

Heart & Grace.
Heart & Grace.

La Couronne Jewellery.
La Couronne Jewellery.

Duraflex Group Australia.
Duraflex Group Australia.

Shreeram Krishna (SRK) Diamonds.
Shreeram Krishna (SRK) Diamonds.

RJ Scanlan & Co.
RJ Scanlan & Co.

Global Jewellery Concepts.
Global Jewellery Concepts.

Chemgold.
Chemgold.

SAMS Group.
SAMS Group.

Diamonds On Call.
Diamonds On Call.

Retail Edge Consultants.
Retail Edge Consultants.

West End Collection.
West End Collection.

Centrestone Jewellery Insurance.
Centrestone Jewellery Insurance.

Mark McAskill FIne Jewellery.
Mark McAskill FIne Jewellery.

Autore Pearls.
Autore Pearls.

Jewellery Centre.
Jewellery Centre.

Ellendale Diamonds.
Ellendale Diamonds.

Gerrim International.
Gerrim International.

Ikecho.
Ikecho.

LABON Diamonds.
LABON Diamonds.

Timesupply.
Timesupply.

RAD Jewellery Wholesale.
RAD Jewellery Wholesale.

Poix & Troy.
Poix & Troy.

World Shiner.
World Shiner.

Paterson Fine Jewellery.
Paterson Fine Jewellery.

Nationwide Jewellers
Nationwide Jewellers

Morris and Watson.
Morris and Watson.

Worth & Douglas.
Worth & Douglas.

Palloys.
Palloys.

Podium.
Podium.

Kailin Insurance.
Kailin Insurance.

Sydney Cartoonist Brett Bowen with a few of his
Sydney Cartoonist Brett Bowen with a few of his 'muses'!

More reading
International Jewellery Fair 2023: The Story Continues
International Jewellery Fair 2023: Action-packed opening day
Duraflex launches lab-created range with 3-carat diamond giveaway
Visitor registrations increase ahead of Sydney Fair
Retail Edge: New appointment ahead of Sydney Fair
Competitions, prizes, and giveaways at upcoming Sydney Fair

 











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