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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Destinations

Vicenzaoro VOICE: Sergio Antonini and Graziano Cason of Antonini Open Up About Expectations, Sales, and the 100th Anniversary Jewelry Collection

Vicenza, Italy. Sept. 13, 2020. Two of jewelry maker Antonini’s principals—Sergio Antonini, art director, and Graziano Cason, sales director—weighed in with their thoughts on business for the current edition of the Vicenzaoro VOICE fair, Sept. 12–14. The brand maintains that business now is hard to gauge but, overall, expects fewer attendees, albeit ones who are intent on buying.

“The ones who will come will be very focused on business and hopefully willing of placing new orders,” insists Antonini. Cason agrees.

“In some areas the business is picking up,” he says. “We really hope we will have a business increase by the end of November, beginning of December. Probably not as the previous years, but never say never!” The pair share more insights in the following interview.

Voice by VicenzaOro

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

Graziano Cason: It’s still unpredictable at the moment, but we continue to work and to stay close to our clients. For us, it is important that we are a small size because when we come back to a quite normal life, there is the possibility to start to travel abroad and hold little events in clients’ boutiques where the epidemic has ended. 

For us, it is also crucial to underline our major asset that is the extreme quality of our jewels. Other brands maybe have eye-catching collections that are very well pushed by important marketing activities, but not a really good product in terms of manufacturing.

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

GC: Unfortunately, it is still slow at the present time. We hope that women might try to find gratification by rewarding themselves with something that will withstand the test of time, and this could, in fact, be an item of jewelry. We also believe that, on the scale of values that will affect our choice of jewel, we will no longer only give importance to the economic (or investment) aspect of the product but look more at the manufacturing quality, different design content, and the possibility of wearing it every day and enjoying it more intimately.

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

GC: Regarding our peculiar design, black rhodium finish is still hot, especially for one-of-a-kind jewels. Yellow polished gold is coming back, and a medium-to-high price point. 

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

GC: It depends from state to state and city to city, but in some of them business is still down while in some others it’s really picking up thanks to private and safe events.

JH: Tell me about your newest jewelry collection.

Sergio Antonini: It is our Anniversary 100 collection, we designed it for our 100th birthday as we were founded in 1919 in Milan. It is made up of around 30 pieces that range in retail price from $2,500–$18,000. We presented it at the January Vicenzaoro fair, so since February some of our retailers have it in their boutiques. But then with the Covid-19 infection, everything was frozen; this September show could be a really good moment to introduce the line to the ones that still haven’t seen it in Europe. In the U.S., we planned to attend the Couture show and JIS, but both of them were erased. We confirmed our participation to Select Jewelry Show, Nov. 1–2, 2020, at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., and hopefully this will be the moment to introduce it to the U.S. market and stores.

Anniversary 100 rings in 18k gold, $3,440–$4,030; email tatiana.tonizzo@antonini.it for purchase

Anniversary 100 rings in 18k gold, $3,440–$4,030; email tatiana.tonizzo@antonini.it for purchase

Anniversary 100 earrings in 18k gold, $6,780; email tatiana.tonizzo@antonini.it for purchase

Anniversary 100 earrings in 18k gold, $6,780; email tatiana.tonizzo@antonini.it for purchase

Anniversary 100 cuff bracelet in 18k gold, $17,890; email tatiana.tonizzo@antonini.it for purchase

Anniversary 100 cuff bracelet in 18k gold, $17,890; email tatiana.tonizzo@antonini.it for purchase

Anniversary 100 necklace in 18k gold, $23,410; email tatiana.tonizzo@antonini.it for purchase

Anniversary 100 necklace in 18k gold, $23,410; email tatiana.tonizzo@antonini.it for purchase


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Destinations

Vicenzaoro VOICE: Mark Pasdon of the Gioelli Group Talks U.S. Sales of Pesavento and Line Extensions to Its DNA Jewelry Collection

Vicenza, Italy. Sept. 12, 2020. Mark Pasdon is head of the Gioelli Group, the U.S. distributor of the Pesavento brand of silver jewelry, but instead of working the brand’s booth during this edition of the Vicenzaoro VOICE show, Sept. 12–14, he’ll be watching from afar.

Americans aren’t the only ones who aren’t traveling to Italy for the show, and for this reason Pesavento is livestreaming a presentation of its newest offerings on Sunday, Sept. 13, at 6:15 Italian time (12:15 EDT). With 70 doors nationwide, there should be plenty of Pesavento buyers tuning in to the Fall/Winter 2020–2021 presentation on Facebook as Pesavento Art Expressions and @pesavento_artexpressions on Instagram. Pasdon is already in the know, but he’ll still be watching.

Voice by VicenzaOro

“The Gioelli Group buys and holds inventory,” he says. “We don’t bring in everything—Pesavento puts out 400 pieces twice a year—but I need to buy intelligently and get hits, not misses.”

More about the Italian brand’s current U.S. sales from the executive, below.

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

Mark Pasdon: At the beginning, it was like everyone else—a little shock and disbelief. Then it was kind of cool being home, then frustration crept in, until finally I was sick of being housebound and wanted to get back out. One of my clients spends 250 days a year on the road and had never been home such a long time! Now it’s acceptance and coping.

JH: What are your expectations for business at the fair?

MP: I have not heard of any expectations! So, zero; Pesavento is hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

JH: What are your American retailers telling you about business now?

MP: The trends that I have heard are that if you haven’t killed one another (the person you’re in lockdown with), you are probably getting married! So, engagements are up, big watch and big diamond sales. People are no longer visiting future purchases; they walk in and walk out with something. Customers are memorializing events—”My daughter is graduating, and I need a gift, this is my price point … what do you have?” There are still birthdays, anniversaries, “I love you” purchases. Maybe someone can’t spend $10,000, but they can afford $500.

In the U.S., our business is off because of missed three-and-a-half months of sales, but as stores open, we’re seeing that people didn’t travel and didn’t buy jewelry in Capri or St. Barts, so they’re buying locally.

Something else we’ve noticed: With malls closed—some out of business for good—that has been good news for independent retailers with their own front doors.

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

MP: The sentiment is positive, globally. And because Pesavento offers a lot of look and style for an affordable price, our product flies under the radar. We are not the “Better to get forgiveness than ask permission” purchase. We are expecting a bullish holiday season.

JH: Tell me about your newest jewelry collections.

MP: Pesavento has mainly line extensions to existing collections, but they’re strong offerings. We added some shorter links to our paper-clip-like looks and removable components to earrings in our Studio 55 collection. We also have a whole “ear mess” situation for the multiple-piercing crowd, but it’s our response to the woman who wants to wear more but doesn’t want another hole in her head. The look is a small hoop earring with a variety of ear clips in different sizes and in all of Pesavento’s different color ways. The price points are great, from $65 to $115 retail, and all the pieces are sold separately but can be packaged together at checkout.

Finally, there’s a clever brand-new Double Your Charm earring concept that is a halo-like jacket or front-to-back earring. There are 120 different pairs in that collection, all in different sizes and shapes.

Polvere Di Sogni small ear cuff in silver with rose-gold plating, $90; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Polvere Di Sogni small ear cuff in silver with rose-gold plating, $90; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Polvere Di Sogni small hoop earring in silver with ruthenium plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $95; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Polvere Di Sogni small hoop earring in silver with ruthenium plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $95; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Polvere Di Sogni mini ear cuff in silver with dark gray ruthenium plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $95; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Polvere Di Sogni mini ear cuff in silver with dark gray ruthenium plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $95; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Small/medium Studio 55 earrings with detachable components in silver with ruthenium plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $425; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Small/medium Studio 55 earrings with detachable components in silver with ruthenium plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $425; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Double Your Charm Polvere Di Sogni Large Combo Oval earrings in silver with ruthenium plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $435; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Double Your Charm Polvere Di Sogni Large Combo Oval earrings in silver with ruthenium plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $435; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Double Your Charm Polvere Di Sogni Mini Circle earring in silver with rose gold plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $475; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase

Double Your Charm Polvere Di Sogni Mini Circle earring in silver with rose gold plating and the brand’s proprietary surface texturing, $475; email ecornfield@gioielligroup.com for purchase


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Destinations

Vicenzaoro VOICE: Anna Gaia of Utopia on Communication, Creativity, and the New Flamante and Mirò Jewelry Collections

Vicenza, Italy. Sept. 12, 2020. Given that Anna Gaia spent most of her quarantine time working, the CEO of Utopia is delighted to reconnect with industry friends and clients this weekend at Vicenzaoro VOICE. With a light presence in the U.S., Gaia aims to interact with mostly Europe-based customers at the fair, who are likely enthusiastic over the prospect of seeing new offerings after a long trade-show hiatus. Gaia is hoping they’ll be dazzled by Utopia’s handiwork, the look and quality of which is no easy feat to produce.

“Retailers need something different,” she says. “The market is mature and more difficult, and the challenge is to find the right product to surprise the customers.”

Voice by VicenzaOro

Jennifer Heebner: What are your expectations for business at the fair?

Anna Gaia: Honestly, I am just so glad to be able to present my collections. There is a saying, “We are starting again!”

JH: What are your Italian retailers telling you about business now? Are sales in Italy starting to pick up? (Utopia has limited distribution in the U.S.)

AG: It is, people are getting back to normality, and we look forward a good winter season. I am positive, Italians don’t give up easily.

I think there is a coming of pearls in fashion, which means a strong interest in pearls combined with gemstones. Another trend is gold bold jewelry, a bit ’80s, to shine more than before.

JH: Tell me about your newest jewelry offerings.

AG: Flamante and Mirò are two of our new collections. Each has more or less 15 SKUs per collection, and the average retail price in each is €5,000. Mirò is interpreting the art of Joan Mirò, which is inspired by geometrical shapes. Mirò is very refined jewelry in diamonds and South Sea pearls. Flamante is very innovative, a fine work of craftsmanship by Italian goldsmiths. We are also launching a line of cameos, reinterpreting Italian art masterpieces. 

Flamante pendant necklace in 18k rose gold with mother-of-pearl, diamonds, and a white South Sea pearl, €15,700; email r.steri@utopia-jewels.com for purchase

Flamante pendant necklace in 18k rose gold with mother-of-pearl, diamonds, and a white South Sea pearl, €15,700; email r.steri@utopia-jewels.com for purchase

Mirò earrings in 18k white gold with diamonds, €18,800; email r.steri@utopia-jewels.com for purchase

Mirò earrings in 18k white gold with diamonds, €18,800; email r.steri@utopia-jewels.com for purchase


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