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'Stylish' Carat+ Show Raises the Mood in Antwerp

May 8, 2017 9:32 AM   By Sonia Esther Soltani
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Exhibitors and visitors were in a positive mood during the inaugural Carat+ “diamonds-only” show in Antwerp this week, particularly as foot traffic improved toward the end of the first day.

The show opened Sunday with visitors arriving from Belgium, the US, the Netherlands, England, France, Italy, Armenia, Israel, Germany and Spain. Organizers said more than 2,000 participants from 35 nationalities had registered to attend the show, which had around 130 diamond companies exhibiting.

Participants saluted the “classy, stylish and refined” layout of the exhibition, as well as the organizers' bravery in launching a new show given the current market conditions.

“It’s nothing short of heroic,” said David Pienica, a director at M&D Pienica, an Antwerp-based diamond manufacturer exhibiting at the three-day event. “It’s very gutsy for the Belgian organizers to do such a show in times like these.”

Pienica praised the “very high standard” the organizers were setting, saying, “Finally we have a really classy show in Antwerp that’s worth participating in.”

The first day ended with a glamorous gala event that saw Casino Royale Bond Girl Caterina Murino (pictured below) wearing creations by acclaimed Italian jewelry designer Roberto Coin, who is also exhibiting at Carat+. Murino, herself a gemologist and jewelry designer, praised the diamond and jewelry industry for championing high ethical standards.

All the booths stayed open during the social gathering to encourage business to carry on throughout the night – an initiative many exhibitors appreciated.

“It shows it’s possible to have fun at a show in Antwerp without being at the bourse,” said Bobak Nasrollahi, CEO of Italy-based diamond supplier Amin Luxury. “There’s an amazingly good mood at the show, and doing business at night with the music and the great atmosphere was really a good idea.”

Nasrollahi stressed that most of the people he’d met on the first day were new contacts, leading him to believe the organizers could make a “massive difference” with their concept.

Participants who spoke with Rapaport News agreed the show’s real success would have to be assessed in the next two to three years. However, the overwhelming feeling was that there would be another edition in 2018.

Visitors such as Alain Biesterveld, marketing manager at Fine Jewellery Manufacturing – a diamond and jewelry supplier with offices in Antwerp and India –came to gauge traffic and the audience, with a view to taking part as an exhibitor next year.

“What will make a difference is if big clients – anyone with 10 or more stores – are coming. It’s not interesting for us if only the small diamantaires and local industry people are here,” Biesterveld said.

Exhibitor Ralph Hoffmann, director of Antwerp-based diamond manufacturer Intralcor Diamond Company, said the show’s strengths were its location and the fact that the organization was highly professional.

“I think Carat+ has a lot of potential,” he added.

Carat+ runs from May 7 to 9 at Antwerp Expo.
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Tags: Antwerp, Bond Girl, CARAT+, Casino Royal, Caterina Murino, diamonds, Diamonds Only, Jewelry, Rapaport News, Sonia Esther Soltani
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