Rapaport Magazine

Antwerp

By Marc Goldstein
Business Mixed at Antwerp Fair

The Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair (ADTF) that took place January 31 through February 2 was the seventh edition, proving that the fair is now part of the global picture and is likely to be a permanent fixture. This is a good point for Antwerp, where diamantaires can now rely on an additional, well-established tool to display both their know-how and goods at a reasonably fair price, since it’s quite easy to move diamonds from a vault in the Diamond Square Mile to a booth at the show. Having said that, the seventh edition is also the occasion to take a look at the positive and negative aspects of the show.

The Upside
   On the upside, all visitors and buyers concurred that coming to Antwerp for this show is an opportunity to meet people and to come as close as possible to the source. For buyers, it’s the dream that they will be able to find anything they want in Antwerp. And it’s true. Of course there’s always the issue of agreeing on a price, but where there’s a will, in Antwerp, there’s always a way. Mohamed A. Bazzy, of Belgium-based Pristine Diamonds, elaborated, “We will only know the outcome of the show afterwards, in the follow-up step. However in terms of show expenses, convenience and safety, it is very acceptable if you compare it to any other international show.” Akashi Jain, of KGK Diamond BVBA, added, “The fair was quite decent. We can’t say it’s booming, but it’s okay as far as contacts are concerned. It’s all about PR, with an eye toward the European market. We did make some sales. In the bigger range, in particular, we sold one 5.15-carat round, H, VS1 triple EX. In total, we sold four stones in the 3-carat to 5.5-carat range and one 9-carat fancy light yellow VS. No need to say that the stones were more than worth the investment for us.” Yoeri Sand, of Sand Gems, noted, “We didn’t bring diamonds here because we wanted to differentiate ourselves from the others. Many people were surprised when they discovered our displays of rubies, sapphires and emeralds, and they bought even more than we anticipated. If 5 percent of the contacts made are followed by orders, then it’ll be one of our best shows.”

The Downside
   On the flip side of the coin, it turned out that the exhibitors were globally still displeased by the poor quality of the visitors and buyers. Bazzy noted, “A lot of the buyers appeared to be active in the semiprecious business. Those who are here to really do business in diamonds can be counted on the fingers of one hand.” A major diamond manufacturer and exhibitor, who preferred to remain anonymous, explained, “The show was okay, but the quality of the buyers should be drastically improved. Small jewelers came here who were not at all interested in buying diamonds. They just came and enjoyed a three-day holiday tour of Belgium offered by us. Such buyers are not effective enough for sustaining our diamond company. Therefore, while we had a full booth over the past three shows, this time we decided to share one. I don’t know whether we’ll come next year, and many of my colleagues are facing the same question. Not to mention that during the whole of day one, workers were completing several technical aspects of the booths’ hardware, drilling and sawing all day long.”
   Eitan Repin, of Onyx Diamonds Europe, agreed: “The show was too expensive for the poor quality of the buyers.” Tony Haddad of Paris-based Diamprest also concurred, noting, “Most people were not here to buy. They were tourists, so we had to sort through them to identify the buyers.” The cherry on the cake was undoubtedly the comment of a diamond manufacturer, who explained off the record that one of the visitors didn’t even know how to hold his loupe.
   Looking for ways to improve the situation, Bazzy suggested, “I strongly believe we can have a much better show here if we manage to move the whole Basel diamond pavilion here to Antwerp. But it’ll have to be done by people who are much more rooted in the trade and organized.” Jain added, “As far as buyers are concerned, we’re not always meeting with good ones. However, it’s a good way for us to discover the needs of buyers from markets we’re not active in yet and learn.”
   One wonders whether the situation is any different at the other European shows. “There are still tourists among the buyers, but definitely less than at Inhorgenta or Vicenza. To such an extent that even without follow up, we most certainly broke even,” insisted Sand. Concluded Haddad: “We were happy to have some clients coming from Denmark, Spain, France, Italy and from all over Europe. This is the strong point of the show, even though big retail groups weren’t present this year. I think, and many agree with me, the first thing to do is to stop paying the hotels for them. This is where tourism ends and where business begins.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - March 2016. To subscribe click here.

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