Despite some unfortunate weather on the opening day, the Australian jewellery industry’s overall sentiment appears positive following the Melbourne Jewellery Expo (MJE).
The three-day event closed on Monday after running alongside the Gift & Lifestyle Melbourne event and despite the unseasonable wet weather, Expertise Events general manager Zac Fitz-Roy was happy after a busy weekend of trading.
“[The feedback] has been overwhelmingly positive, exhibitors have overall been pleasantly surprised with the on-site results, and with orders predicted to flow for the coming weeks, the results are looking strong. This year is about the face-to-face contact and building and maintaining relationships, it’s not always about what is written on the day,” he explained.
“Buyers have found the event to be easily accessible, in the heart of the city, and with a cross-section of products that makes it worth the trip – particularly for those in regional centres. Also given some of the weather patterns the MCEC provides undercover parking – these days that’s important!”
The Melbourne fair began in 2021 – during the pandemic – and an important factor in its return this year was the support of three of Australia’s four major buying groups, with Nationwide Jewellers, the Independent Jewellers Collective (IJC) and Leading Edge Jewellers each running members events at the Expo.
Fitz-Roy said it was great to see the buying groups offering activities on the floor for all three days in order to support members and suppliers.
Nationwide Jewellers managing director Colin Pocklington told Jeweller that the MJE presented an important opportunity to meet with Victoria’s members.
“We are very happy with how the Expo has unfolded. Foot traffic was much stronger on the Saturday compared with the Sunday,” he said.
“With an organisation such as ours, you can’t replace the value of working in-person with your members. Jewellers are busy people! Many of them work long hours managing their stores while many others still work on the bench too, completing orders.”
He continued: “Our members are always preoccupied with the day-to-day of their businesses and so we always do whatever we can to make the most of these kinds of events because you can always offer so much more value to someone working face-to-face than you could ever hope to offer with an email.”
Fitz-Roy added, “If anything the buying onsite has been particularly encouraging. I think it’s also important to note our role is to deliver and reach the broadest range of retailers as possible.
“Being co-located with giftware as we have done since 2021 means it’s convenient for country retailers in particular.”
Something new for IJC
For Australia’s youngest group – the IJC – the event marked an opportunity to introduce the wider industry to the Gift and Homeware Collective, a new buying group launched by CEO Josh Zarb.
“It’s been a really successful weekend – for us taking part in this trade show was a no-brainer,” he said. “Considering we’ve just launched the gift group and we’ve got the jewellery fair taking place under the same roof – it really was a one-stop shop.”
“I didn’t really set any firm expectations heading into the event. On the jewellery industry side of things, I knew who was going to be attending and who I’d have the chance to speak with. From the perspective of the giftware buying group, it was a chance to gauge what the level of awareness was and in that regard, I think it was even better than what I was hoping for.”
Zarb added: “People have been very understanding and engaged and enthusiastic which is really good. We held two talks and that was a great chance to bring people we’ve met out on the floor around for a presentation that really summarises what it is we are offering.”
Sydney-based Greenwax offers computer-assisted design to complete custom-made jewellery. The company also recently partnered with Smartpro and offers diamond testing equipment.
On offer was the chance to trial a new wireless diamond testing device, which is able to differentiate between lab-created diamonds, moissanite, and diamonds in a matter of seconds.
Greenwax sales consultant Zvi Charlupski said, “I’m very happy with how this fair has been. My intention in coming here was to connect with some new Victorian customers and I’ve done exactly that – so what more could I ask for?
“Traffic was much busier on Saturday compared to Sunday. Given the size of the Expo there’s not much to complain about – I’ve had plenty of friendly people to interact with.”
Gerrim International co-director Gerri Maunder made the journey from Queensland to participate in the MJE and said she was pleased with the reception towards her products.
“It was much busier on Sunday than on Saturday for us. We’ve had really positive feedback on our products which we always do – Gerrim is always very popular,” she said.
“We’ve had the chance to showcase our products which is good and spent some time with our regular clients which is important.”
From here the attention of the industry turns to the Australian Jewellery Fair (AJF), taking place at the International Convention Centre in Sydney’s Darling Habour on 18-19 March.
The 2022 edition of the AJF was a sellout, much like the MJE, and Fitz-Roy said that he hopes the event would be able to build on the momentum of the past year’s event.
“There is a lot of positivity in the market despite general public concerns about the economy, and anticipation is building as a result for the Australian Jewellery Fair in March,” Fitz-Roy said.
“That meeting will give Sydney retailers the crucial opportunity to come and restock after Valentine’s Day and ahead of Mother’s Day.”
He continued: “I think despite what the concerns about what may lay ahead people are increasingly recognising that face-to-face communication is crucial in this trade. For that reason, we are pleased to have not only our March show coming soon, as well as Australia’s original and number one event in August – the International Jewellery Fair (IJF).”
The IJF is scheduled to take place 19-21 August.
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