Destinations

The Final Word from Attendees to the Vicenzaoro VOICE Jewelry Trade Show? Better Than Expected

Vicenza, Italy. Sept. 17, 2020. Phrases used by those in attendance at the Vicenzaoro VOICE fair, Sept. 12–14, to describe the first major jewelry trade show since late February include:

“More buyers than we expected.”

“Surprised in a positive way.”

“Sales were good though far from normal.”

“Extremely successful communication.”

“Good signals for promising returns for the gift season.”

“Thankful to be back in business.”

Overall sentiment was pragmatic. Sergio Antonini of the same-name design firm was initially skeptical of participating, but his fears were ultimately alleviated. “I was worried to invest in an exhibition that doesn’t bring any sales,” he explained in an email interview. “Then we saw the layout and a lot of exhibitors participating, and we understood that it was the right way to restart.”

Most participating brands were also pleasantly surprised. Of course, traffic and exhibitors were quieter than at previous editions, as were sales, but the promise of a better tomorrow was stationed in the minds of many. Social distancing measures, mandatory mask wearing, temperature taking, and the wide distribution of hand sanitizer and rigorous cleaning protocols did not dampen spirits. Attendees realized these were necessary measures to take in order to tiptoe back to more normal business.

“Stringent safety measures were in place,” said David Brough, editor of Jewellery Outlook in London. “I think Vicenzaoro showed great courage, imagination, resilience, and, most important, leadership to stage the VOICE trade fair at a time when other shows had canceled.”

For sure, interviewees were pleased with measures taken by the show organizer, the Italian Exhibition Group (IEG). From safety to attendance by journalists and bloggers from countries that could travel, coverage and seminar content—most of which was live streamed—were appreciated, according to brands interviewed. Numbers back up those opinions. Digital presentations experienced 3.5 million views on the show’s Facebook Live and YouTube channels, according to Marco Carniello, IEG’s group brand director, jewelry and fashion.

“No digital format can completely replace the physical encounter,” he says. However, there’s room for both live and virtual. “We learned that the hybrid fair is the future.”

And while Roberto Coin had low expectations—“We all knew that this show was not going to be a success in terms of sales,” he said over email—he took part in it because it represented moving forward: “It’s a signal that Italy is a safe place and that we are the first to restart.”

International travel restrictions may have hindered the live show, but buyers who attended were eager to resume business. Among their purchases: stacking rings, jewelry for a younger clientele, and collections that blended the traditional with the modern. Specific collections targeted by buyers? Ever from Mattioli; Morette from Nanis; Buckle, Hula Hoops, and Pebbles from Vendorafa; and Love in Verona, Princess Flower, Savauge Privé, and Rock and Diamonds from Roberto Coin, among others.

In the end, resilience and resourcefulness found a way. Coin called it “the strength, dedication, and passion of the industry to find a new way to collaborate together to reach a new normal, to feel safe and free again.” To be clear, some sales, too, were part of this winning equation. Collectively, sales skewed conservatively, but that’s not the case for Antonini. Can we say, “windfall”?

“We had a pair of orders from European buyers that covered the costs of the booth, and this is the best news,” he beams.


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Destinations

Vicenzaoro VOICE: Licia Mattioli of Mattioli Talks Communication Strategies, Affordable Jewels, and the New Ever Jewelry Collection

Vicenza, Italy. Sept. 14, 2020. When asked about expectations for business at the Vicenzaoro VOICE fair, Sept. 12–14, Licia Mattioli of the eponymous jewelry firm spoke with cautious optimism.

“I believe we should wait until the end of the fair before drawing conclusions,” she says in an email interview. “VOICE is a new format, tailored for this delicate situation. Let’s stay positive, but let’s also be aware it may not be the usual fair we know.”

Voice by VicenzaOro

Leading up to the show, her European retailers were eager for a restart. Many had stayed in touch throughout Italy’s lockdown by way of technology and were enthused at the prospect of meeting in person. “The European retailers at the fair are ones who are definitely looking for a reconnection,” she explains.

And while it’s too soon to expect a recovery, Mattioli observes that the general mood of Italians has improved compared with the winter. “People are being careful and are trying to follow the rules, but there is also a desire for normality,” she says.

Mattioli expands further on a return to business in the paragraphs below.

Jennifer Heebner: How did you and your family spend your time during lockdown?

Licia Mattioli: Being at home gave me the chance to spend more time with my family. Since I am always traveling a lot, I took the chance to rediscover a new way of life, definitely slower than what I am used to. I even had the chance to bake! But being “slow” doesn’t necessarily mean to not move forward. This slow time at my home also gave me the chance to rethink about my collections and Mattioli’s communication strategies. We were facing a hard time during which we were forced to reinvent the way we could interact with one another and the way we could share positive messages, but no business doesn’t mean you freeze a brand’s growth.

JH: What are Italian jewelry collectors buying now in terms of looks, materials, and price points?

LM: The general trend is to seek more-affordable prices, stacking pieces, and also to find jewels that can engage a younger target of customers. This is also one of the reasons why we’ve decided to introduce more color options and new materials to our latest collection, Ever. It is a collection of 18k rose gold jewels which includes stones like black diamonds, coral, turquoise, pink opal, and malachite. It has the great quality of handcrafted Italian jewelry but has a much younger look, perfect for those who are seeking for an unconventional jewel.

JH: What are your U.S. accounts telling you now about business?

LM: It is a difficult time. Customers are looking for more affordable prices, but on the other side, when a customer goes into a jewelry shop nowadays, it is actually because he or she wants to buy something. They don’t just hang around for ideas, it seems that those few customers know what they want and what they are looking for. Probably an improvement in terms of web communication and social media strategies worked out well to show them brands, jewelry options, and other useful information even during the lockdown.

JH: What kind of Christmas season are you expecting in Italy and in the U.S.?

LM: We expect a slow resumption around Christmas in Italy. Fall season will be probably slow, I feel people may still be cautious, but after so many months at home I feel there is a deep desire to go outside and enjoy life again. This may also translate into a sales resumption. In the U.S. we are hoping for a new season for our historical distributor Neiman Marcus.

JH: Tell me about your newest jewelry collection.

LM: Our newest collection is called Ever. It is inspired by the iconic “stud” shape of our masterpieces in the Reve_r collection. Ever is already available in stores both in Europe and in the U.S. The entry price is $1,000. We are also launching a new high-end parure of a cuff, ring, and earrings at The Voice. These are one-of-a-kind jewels in titanium and white and black diamonds and are inspired by the great architectures of Calatrava.

We are glad to announce that in the next weeks our new e-shop for the U.S. market will be launched. Customers will have the chance not only to purchase our jewels but also to interact with our Puzzle customizable products. We’ve developed a configurator through which the selection of our interchangeable mother-of-pearls will be fun and easy. We are very proud to introduce this new technology, and we are really looking forward to receiving feedback from our customers. Puzzle is our most iconic collection and our best seller all around the world, so it is thrilling to have a new tool to properly show the collection.

Ever ring in 18k gold with black diamonds, $1,520; email annalisa.dasilva@mattioli.it for purchase

Ever ring in 18k gold with black diamonds, $1,520; email annalisa.dasilva@mattioli.it for purchase

Ever earrings in 18k gold with turquoise, $2,040; email annalisa.dasilva@mattioli.it for purchase

Ever earrings in 18k gold with turquoise, $2,040; email annalisa.dasilva@mattioli.it for purchase

Ever necklace in 18k gold with coral, $5,600; email annalisa.dasilva@mattioli.it for purchase

Ever necklace in 18k gold with coral, $5,600; email annalisa.dasilva@mattioli.it for purchase


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Destinations

Vicenzaoro VOICE: Damiani Adds One-Of-A-Kinds to Its Regal Margherita Jewelry Collection

Vicenza, Italy. Sept. 14, 2020. Italian jewelry house Damiani has added both repeatable pieces and one-of-a-kind jewels to its Margherita collection, which first debuted in 2017. The idea behind Margherita is to honor and reinterpret an original jewel created by founder Enrico Grassi Damiani for Margherita of Savoy, the first Queen of Italy. A daisy motif is the focus of Margherita, and every jewel features a handmade flower created by the brand’s master goldsmiths in Valenza, Italy.

Color ways for repeatable styles include white gold and colorless diamonds, rose gold with brown diamonds and amethyst, and yellow gold with colorless diamonds and citrine. Meanwhile, one-off pieces include rings, brooch-pendants, earrings, and a bracelet watch. Gems of choice are fancy-color diamonds, yellow sapphires, golden beryl or heliodor, emeralds, morganite, multicolor sapphires, and brown diamonds.

Voice by VicenzaOro

Public relations manager Giancarlo Parolini explains that the brand has reinvigorated Margherita in light of the Covid-19 crisis. “Damiani’s daisies return to bloom to celebrate the values of elegance, vitality, and femininity through sophisticated color schemes,” he says in an email interview.

“Now more than ever, Damiani is glad to point out that our creations are a ‘store of wealth or safe heaven’ for our customers…products characterized by an intrinsic value which stands inseparable from objects themselves,” he adds. “Covid-19 has created a totally new economic and cultural scenario where companies must adapt their business models following market changes and invest in innovation to be able to seize new business opportunities. More than ever we have to re-think what we do and how we do, not only to survive but to continue to excel in our sector.”

Margherita pieces will be available for sale in November in stores but also on the Damiani web site. “Digitalization will be an important trend over the coming months, but we must always remember that the human touch is always essential in the luxury jewelry and watches industry,” Parolini adds.

Digital meetings are a possibility to see new creations. Email giancarlo.parolini@damiani.com to schedule a virtual visit.

Margherita ring in 18k rose gold with morganite, pink sapphires, and colorless diamonds, €25,000; email giancarlo.parolini@damiani.com for purchase

Margherita ring in 18k rose gold with morganite, pink sapphires, and colorless diamonds, €25,000; email giancarlo.parolini@damiani.com for purchase

Margherita earrings in 18k white and yellow gold with yellow and colorless diamonds, and emeralds, €55,000; email giancarlo.parolini@damiani.com for purchase

Margherita earrings in 18k white and yellow gold with yellow and colorless diamonds, and emeralds, €55,000; email giancarlo.parolini@damiani.com for purchase

Margherita Secret watch in 18k rose gold with morganite, multicolor sapphires, and brown diamonds, €55,000; email giancarlo.parolini@damiani.com for purchase

Margherita Secret watch in 18k rose gold with morganite, multicolor sapphires, and brown diamonds, €55,000; email giancarlo.parolini@damiani.com for purchase

Margherita Secret watch in 18k rose gold with morganite, multicolor sapphires, and brown diamonds, €55,000; email giancarlo.parolini@damiani.com for purchase

Margherita Secret watch in 18k rose gold with morganite, multicolor sapphires, and brown diamonds, €55,000; email giancarlo.parolini@damiani.com for purchase


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Destinations

Vicenzaoro VOICE: Laura Bicego of Nanis on Family, Cooking, Gifting, Positivity, and Her Refreshed Morette Jewelry Collection

Vicenza, Italy. Sept. 13, 2020. The force behind the Nanis jewelry brand spent much of her pandemic lockdown time cooking and watching movies with her daughters, but she is joyful at the opportunity to return to work at this weekend’s Vicenzaoro VOICE fair. Bicego knows business won’t be at the same level as previous trade fairs, but the optimist in her is ever hopeful.

I can’t but expect a positive feedback from VOICE,” she explains. “A lot of customers confirmed their participation, and I think that this is the first step of our ‘new normal,’ exploring a new way of meeting and doing business. In these times, we can no more only rely on physical shows as we did in the past, but I still believe in the power of these events, mostly for the opportunity they give you to meet your partners in person. This is the thing that I am missing the most in this pandemic.”

Bicego dives deeper into her take on the return to business in the following Q&A.

Voice by VicenzaOro

Jennifer Heebner: How did you and your family spend your time during lockdown? 

Laura Bicego: I took advantage of the lockdown to slow down and, most of all, spent some time with my family! Luckily my two daughters were at home with me, while my son stayed in London, where he’s working. I must say that even if I was missing my job and my very busy routine, I came to realize how important it is to take some time off, enjoying the little things such as cooking a dinner (you must know that I love cooking!) or watching a movie with the people I love. At the very end of it I was really recharged, full of energy, and so inspired to get back to my first and biggest passion—jewelry!

JH: What have your retailer clients been telling you about business leading up to the fair?

LB: They, of course, told us about their huge desire to restart, to get back to the business, but I also feel a new awareness rising. I think that on a general level, we’ve all understood that we won’t get back to the pre-pandemic situation, and companies and retailers must work together to find new ways to cooperate, to inspire each other, and to get to the end consumers as never before. In a way, to get back to your question, retailers are asking companies to create new, innovative ways of doing business together, supporting each other in order to reach a common goal. We really need to team up!

JH: What does business in Italy look like now? Is it starting to pick up?

LB: Italy was harshly affected by the coronavirus, but I must say that I see clear signals of recovery. As a company, we also have a connection with our final customers, and I think that it is their enthusiasm, their desire to get back to a “new normal,” their will to “gift themselves” that is making the business powerfully starting again. I have the feeling that, after the lockdown, people realized how important it is to live and fully enjoy the present moment, focusing on the things that make us happy, that leave a trace, that lasts, and I think that jewelry perfectly embodies all these values.

JH: What are Italian jewelry collectors buying now in terms of looks, materials, and price points?

LB: We have different trends going on in Italy. One is the “safe” one, where retailers prefer to invest in traditional jewels, mostly in gold and diamonds or in very popular natural stones, such as the aquamarine, with a low/medium price point. These customers prefer to invest on something that they can sell every day. Besides that, we also have many customers that invest in more important and unconventional pieces, such as the ones coming from our Ivy collection, with its iconic necklace, which has turned into our most loved jewel ever. What we always push our customers to do is to have both kind of jewels in terms of price point, because nothing like the dream piece can help you also sell the less expensive jewels. It is our philosophy to meet the needs of all kinds of women, in terms of taste and economic possibilities.

JH: What are your U.S. accounts telling you now about business?

LB: As far as I see, America is still going through a hard time, which makes our accounts not willing to invest and buy as they did in the past. And on top of that, there’s the fact that we cannot travel there, which is of course a huge limit. But on the other hand, our American accounts tell us about a new consumer, who wants to buy more than ever (and more and more online), but not only that! It’s a consumer that prioritizes the values and the story behind the businesses, and who’s willing to spend money but that carefully chooses where doing so.

JH: What kind of Christmas season are you expecting in Italy and in the U.S.?

LB: I believe that this Christmas may serve us some nice surprises! As it won’t be possible to travel (or at least not as much as before), I expect that people will spend this holiday with their families, relatives, friends, and in general, with the people they care about. People will come together more, that is for sure one of the best consequences of this pandemic! And a side aspect of it is that there will be more gifts! And isn’t jewelry the best gift of all?

JH: Tell me about your newest jewelry collection.
LB: The name of our newest project is Morette, a fun and sweet Italian diminutive of mulberries (you must know that I give diminutives to everything, no exception!). This collection is really special because it blends the past and the present of our company. We’ve in fact revisited a particular collection that we used to do many years ago.

As a 30-year-old company, we cherish a lot of our archives, and we love to pick from them and revisit that creativity in a contemporary way, with modern tools and technology. Morette had such an interesting and passionate development, as we started from a flat design that we’ve turned into a tridimensional one, till reaching the beautiful, rounded shapes that distinguish this collection and that explains its name, as [the] jewels really recall mulberries!

The collection counts around 40 SKUs, and it’s varied in terms of design as we go from more important and really timeless jewels till more fancy and fresh pieces. This variety is of course also reflected in the price range of $800–$20,000. We want to touch a wide public, from the youngest till the more aged one, because wearing a jewel is a pleasure that every woman, regardless her age, should always enjoy!

Morette ring in 18k yellow gold with diamond accents, $1,710; email chiara.matteazzi@nanis.it for purchase

Morette ring in 18k yellow gold with diamond accents, $1,710; email chiara.matteazzi@nanis.it for purchase

Morette drop earrings in 18k yellow gold with diamond accents, $1,740; email chiara.matteazzi@nanis.it for purchase

Morette drop earrings in 18k yellow gold with diamond accents, $1,740; email chiara.matteazzi@nanis.it for purchase


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