Rapaport Magazine

Italy Show Surprisingly Busy

Europeans turned out in force for Choice, the third in the series of Vicenza shows.

By Nancy Pier Sindt
RAPAPORT... Aptly named Choice, the third segment of the Vicenza trilogy offered a dazzling array of jewelry selections featuring multicolored diamonds, metals, gemstones and materials. This five-day show, held September 12 to 16, is geared largely to the Italian/European audience. It was surprisingly well attended and aisles remained crowded as late as the afternoon of the fourth day. A total of 1,400 exhibitors gathered in the 570,000 square feet of space, which included the Glamroom, a special section reserved for designers of directional luxury products, such as home decor, art jewelry and personal accessories. Compared to 2008 attendance, Choice attracted a 28 percent increase in buyers, for a total of 13,670 — 9,413 from Italy and 4,257 from abroad. Generally, exhibitors said they were pleasantly surprised by the amount of traffic and sales, even though there was a notable dearth of foreign buyers, specifically Americans, Russians and Japanese.

While many exhibitors took the name of the show literally, offering a variety of new merchandise, others, indicative of the prevailing tough times, did not unveil new collections — or even new promotional materials, instead using “leftovers” from the spring editions of Basel and JCK.

This was largely because over the past 18 months, Italy also has experienced the prevailing worldwide retail malaise, as well as the consolidation and/or closure of jewelry manufacturers throughout the industry.

Speaking at a press conference, Domenico Girardi, the fair’s general director, said market conditions have mandated changes in strategic plans for the fair and that organizers are “monitoring the situation.”


At this holiday-oriented show, most manufacturers clearly set out to encourage recalcitrant retailers to select a few exciting pieces to freshen up holiday stocks. “Italian retailers have not bought this year and now must buy something to put in the windows,” observed Antonio Sartori, owner and designer of Talento, Milan. His company’s new jewelry line for holiday was Monaco, a sparkling winter-white look of crystal, diamonds and gold in the $900-to-$5,000 price range.

Also taking a proactive attitude to the down market was Gianni Stivanello, managing director of Ambrosi, Valenza. This 60-year-old family-owned company is best known for its spectacular diamond and gemstone creations retailing in the six- and seven-figure range. “Now is the right moment to choose the right direction to go,” maintained Stivanello, “and it is never a mistake to stay at the top level.”

By this, Stivanello means never downgrading the quality of materials and workmanship, even if some clients can no longer afford the higher-priced pieces. “We have to be rich in imagination in a poor climate,” he said. An example of this is Ambrosi’s new Deo Collection, a sportier, younger look of inlaid gemstones in gold with no diamonds. “We offer the same quality in the smaller pieces,” he said. “There can be no compromise.” The design of Deo, whose floral theme is reinterpreted from a 20-year-old collection by the company,  is copyrighted and each piece numbered.

Taking jewelry to a higher technical level is Marchisio Giovanni, a Turin-based company whose signature is classic, handmade gold. Fifth-generation Alessandro Marchisio, inspired by the high-tech qualities of his hometown’s automotive industry, decided to translate this feeling into jewelry. “The goal is to create a new concept because the market needs something new,” he said.

What Marchisio came up with is the Klak, a disc-shaped design made of gold and gemstones that snaps onto a head that can be located on a ring, earrings, cufflinks, pendant or even jeans. The double-faced disc can be interchanged in a number of ways. So far, this whimsical yet versatile item has met with acceptance by jewelers, but might not be available to them in its current form in the future. That’s because one of Italy’s big-name fashion designers is considering buying the exclusive rights to the design for his jeans collection, said Marchisio.

Setrak Tokatzian, a retailer with three shops in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, was shopping for new items at Choice and commented on the changed times. American vacationers in Venice, he said, even those who arrive in private jets, are nevertheless reluctant to spend money on jewelry. Generally,  Americans have good taste and want new designs, but due to economic times, they “do not have the humor to buy,” he said. The Tokatzian shops carry a full range of Italian designs, including some fabulous one-of-a-kind diamond and gemstone New York skyline bracelets created by Valenza’s Staurino Particulari Preziosi.

Major style directions at Choice included:
•Lighter-than-air designs with laser-cut details, hollow and electroformed constructions, stampings,  netting, mesh, filigree and wirework.
•More sterling silver, alone or accented with gold, diamonds and gems.
•Pearls and beads as stations on chains or combined with gold  and diamonds.
•Diamonds and gold in combination with leather and cords, fabrics, resin, glass and industrial metals.
•Collections designed for specific market segments such as children, men and teens.
•Rings with prominent prongs, gemstones in asymmetrical settings and oversized gypsy mountings.
•Flowers and leaves, plus sea creatures, scorpions and skulls. Among the interesting new items were:
•Wider, openwork rings that wrap the finger with multiple bands of gold.
•Freeform versions of three-stone rings in which each stone is of a different color and size.
•Cascade earrings with dangling briolettes or gemstones in flexible mesh settings.
•Bracelets in cord and leather with gem-studded centerpieces.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - October 2009. To subscribe click here.

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