Our review of the year’s biggest jewellery trade exhibition in London.
IJL celebrated its 57th show in September boasting first-time exhibitors and big brands, with jewellers celebrating silver anniversaries and a host of international companies making a play for the UK market. Professional Jeweller rounds up the hits and highlights from this year’s show.
The annual International Jewellery London (IJL) trade show flung open its doors last month to an eager crowd of visitors, with more than 600 companies showcasing their wares, and 156 brand new exhibitors for 2012.
This year’s show attracted almost 9,000 visitors, a drop from last year’s footfall figure of about 10,000 visitors. IJL has since reported that 75% of visitors to this year’s show influence or have direct purchasing power, and more than a third of IJL’s audience are independent jewellery retailers – thought to be more than any other UK trade event.
But the show also made plans to ensure that it had edited its layout to make it fresh for visitors, including a revamped catwalk at the back of the show hall and an increase in fresh design talent from brands including Allumer, Kissika, Pearl & Queenie and J Jaz, plus and international brands such as Stuart Moore, Kissing Diamonds and Zebra showcasing everything from cutting-edge platinum jewellery to playful silver charms.
With IJL a key buying event ahead of the Christmas and SS13 periods, many retailers were keen to get to the show, and free shuttle buses were even laid on from Birmingham to the Earls Court venue to ensure a cross-section of key UK retailers.
And the feedback from the brands? So far, so positive, with many reporting a rise in new stockists, especially brands that made a show debut in 2012. Kissing Diamonds, a jewellery brand that was launched in 2005 and has switched tack in the past year from working with multiple retailers to opening up its independent retail channels, won 10 new stockists at the show, bringing its UK total to 37. The brand is planning to build on this success and is aiming to open 100 doors in the next few years.
Fine jeweller Andrew Geogheghan, who stole the hearts of many retailers at last year’s show with his bright and daring range of cocktail rings, used the show to unveil a new ring everyday, as well as to launch his Facebook ring – a diamond design created with help from his Facebook fans using a voting system. While he said this year’s IJL was a little quieter than 2011, the retailers had still rolled in. “The new product launches went down a storm and the Facebook ring became a must-see piece at IJL,” he explains, noting that two new stockists have been confirmed with the third in the pipeline.
Silver jewellery brand Amore Argento Silver also announced that it was “delighted” at the interest that was shown in their products and new point of sale that it showcased at IJL. Sales director Paul Bellingham said: “We have already followed-up leads from the show with great success and our retailers are feeding back fantastic interest and sales of the collection.”
Silver brand Lucy Q also enjoyed a strong show with eight new stockists.
This year’s IJL was also all about competitions and was the perfect opportunity to announce winners of a number of projects, as well as showcasing this year’s Bright Young Gems line-up.
Alexander Davis was awarded Gemvision’s prize for best render made using its Matrix design software, winning himself a trip to the Gemvision symposium in Iowa next year. Tom McDanielson from Mallory Jewellers in Bath was also awarded by Gemvision, scoring a bottle of champagne for his Olympics-inspired crown under the Best Sporting Theme, while Mo Ebrahim accepted a prize for Best Technical Design for his cocktail ring designs.
The British Jewellers’ Association used IJL for the culmination of its Jubilee brooch competition, with its six finalists – announced earlier in the summer – showcasing their designs at the show. The prize was awarded to Ivonna Poplanska’s for her design, The Eternal Dove, with her stating her disbelief but joy at winning against such a high calibre of entrants, which had been previously whittled down by Professional Jeweller editor-in-chief Rachael Taylor, jewellery designers Cindy Dennis Mangan and Ruth Tomlinson, Green + Benz director Helen Dimmick and the BJA’s Lindsay Straughton.
Holts Academy and Brown & Newirth also teamed up for a ring design competition, showcasing the work of the three winning young designers at the show, with a theme based on the Jubilee and Olympics. The winners, unveiled as Honor Lee, Saimia Hussain and Magaly Trigalet-Dombasi, created the designs using CAD. The finished pieces were then manufactured and put on display at IJL.
A PLATINUM YEAR
Platinum jewellery added plenty of shine at the show, with the PGI’s Platinum Trail competition, judged by industry experts and consumers, culminating in the announcement of several awards at the show, across a range of categories. The Most Commercially Appealing Design award was won by Emdico for the Trinity Collection designed by Sanjay Khandelwal, while the Most Inspirational Design was won by US jewellery designer Stuart Moore for his Suspension tri-set.
The inaugural Consumer’s Choice Award, voted for by readers of You & Your Wedding magazine, went to River Mounts for its Peka tri-set, which received almost twice as many votes as the other entries, while Brown & Newirth clinched the Retailers’ Choice Award for its Three Graces tri-set designed by Juraj Vyrostek.
Sarah Jordan, who also celebrated her 25th anniversary at the show with a champagne reception, received commendation in the Most Inspirational Design category for her Freya tri-set. She was also part of the Lonmin Design Innovation Award for platinum jewellery, creating her Shimmy earrings – a design that she dubbed the most complicated piece she has ever made.
NEW NAMES, NEW JEWELS
Emerging talent is always a key focus at IJL, and with this year’s KickStarters line-up an all female design force including tipped-for-the-top names such as Clarice Price Thomas, Annaloucah Fine Jewellery, Ros Millar and Imogen Belfield, who herself scooped the Stylesight prize, winning a year’s access to its trends analysis services worth almost £5,500.
The designs on show were what mattered, however, and the KickStarter stand showcased a range of work from feather and bird skull necklaces by Quarter Angel, to a new collection from Myia Bonner and layered, open work jewellery designs by Mandana Oskoui.
At the Bright Young Gems stand – four fresh designers who are only revealed at the show – the work was an eclectic mix of intricate, linear downscaled body sculptures made entirely by hand by Stephanie Chloe Bila, jewellery made with glass and kaleidoscopic rings by Katie Jamieson and 1950s-inspired jewels from Nilplug. The line-up also included watch designs by Sophie E Ellis who has just won a scholarship to a watchmaking school in Switzerland.
Looking ahead to 2013’s show IJL’s event director Sam Willoughby comments: “We are extremely pleased to hear so much positive feedback from both exhibitors and visitors. These are tough times for everyone, but the amount of order taking done at the show proves how resilient and innovative the jewellery industry is.”
Willoughby added that the show this year had been about building on the visitor quality and look of the show, including purple orchid flower displays and a focus on the high-profile designer brands and manufacturers showcasing their work along the Boulevard.
Next year Willoughby says the show will offer a strong selection of brands with many major names having already rebooked for 2013. "IJL is different to any other trade show in the UK in that it delivers jewellery specific buyers only," says Willoughby. "IJL has always been the premier jewellery trade event in the UK and this year’s event reminds everyone why."
This feature was taken from the October issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue online, click here.