Rapaport Magazine

Antwerp Diamond Fair Evolving

More visitors are coming to the fair, but most of the buying happens later.

By Marc Goldstein

©Blueclic.com/G. Miclotte
The third annual installment of the Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair (ADTF), hosted by the Antwerp Diamond Bourse and the Diamond Club of Antwerp under the auspices of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), was acclaimed by exhibitors and attendees alike as a real success. It was generally agreed that both the quality and organization of the show, held January 29 to 31, 2012, in the halls of the historic bourse, have improved over its three years of operation.

Attendance was up from 2011, with approximately 260 visitors from the Middle East, Europe and India. Show organizers said they hope to welcome U.S. visitors at next year’s fair. A question remains as to the event’s bottom-line profitability since it’s widely conceded that the bulk of the show’s sales do not necessarily happen during the fair or at the fair site. Deals are often concluded at exhibitors’ offices rather than at the fair booths or they are closed after the fair between parties who made initial contact at the show.

David Pienica of M&D Pienica, one of the ADTF founders, said he is very happy with “the way the show is evolving. This year, we had about 66 exhibitors, which is more than 2011, and there were even more companies willing to participate. But space was limited. Bit by bit, the show’s brand image in the industry is being defined. As far as I’m concerned, I’d like the show to grow and evolve slowly, but I wouldn’t want it to become a supermarket, like some of the biggest shows, because it would loose its cachet and prestige. I believe that
100 exhibitors would be an appropriate figure, which would be in line with our positioning it as an average-size international fair.”

One definite advantage of the fair’s venue, noted one show attendee, is that the historic bourse halls provide “the ultimate showcase for the ultimate diamonds.”

Axel Beck of Beck Diamonds explained that he “was quite happy with the fair in general, and I was particularly satisfied with the gala dinner and the potential business partners I met there.” Beck also complimented the “superb gala entertainment,” which was provided by award-winning soprano Ana Camelia Stefanescu and the Nuovi Musiche orchestra.

“The quality level of the clients was more satisfactory than in the previous year but show sales appeared to be weaker this year,” said Beck. “Actually, volume increased but total value was lower. But I think it has nothing to do with the fair, just the economic uncertainty. For example, last year we sold several 2-caraters, but none this time. Instead, many people were asking for SI piqué goods.”

As always, the fair itself was a place where new business contacts could be made, commented Rahul Zaveri of the Gem Impex/Vama Gems booth. “It’s our second time here and even though we made some sales, to us, it’s more about contact building. The big advantage is that our office stays open while we’re here. It’s interesting to see now that clients are coming from Turkey or the Middle East, but it’s not so much a surprise to us. They need to find new and cheaper suppliers as much as we need to find new clients. Antwerp is a much bigger trading center than Dubai. It’s just a matter of time for the word to spread.”

Another major advantage of the Antwerp fair, according to Emile Lieber of Krochmal & Lieber Diamonds, is that “Everything is easier to access than, for example, in Basel. A huge quantity of goods can be seen in a couple of hours, which leaves time then to start negotiating. Furthermore, coming to Antwerp can reduce costs by as much as 10 percent for specific stones since there are no fees to be paid to intermediaries. Antwerp is a label of quality, choice and transparency but people tend to have fallen off from their habit of coming here, which is where the fair comes into play.”

Referring to the one-day strike protesting the country’s austerity measures, Thierry Silber of Diamaz Intl. noted that “Unfortunately, the strike that took place in Belgium right in the middle of the fair was one of those unforeseeable events that can severely affect a show like ours. Fortunately, even though it appears some clients weren’t able to travel here as planned, new customers showed up and bought.”

The fair attendees were, in general, very enthusiastic, such as Filippo Russo of Filippo William Russo, who said “This was our first time at the fair, even though we’ve been coming to Antwerp for 16 years. What was very interesting was that it’s the only fair that is so specific and focused on my activity: diamond dealing, wholesaling, retailing, distributing…everything around polished diamonds. Moreover, Antwerp is near any European country and the selection here is huge. You can make people compete on prices and you also can sell your own diamonds, even if you’re not an exhibitor, which is not the case at most shows across Europe.”

Renato Emrani of Emco Snc added, “We’re definitely coming back next year. However, I think they could give us a bigger place, for bigger and larger booths. More space would be welcome to allow for more privacy, in particular when negotiating bigger deals, because you don’t want people to stretch their necks and watch how much you’re offering.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - March 2012. To subscribe click here.

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