How times have changed during 29 years at Basel

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This year, we took part in our 29th consecutive year exhibiting at BaselWorld.

On my first visit, the Basel Watch, Clock & Jewellery Show shared the event space with a catering show. How times have changed.

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In my first year as an exhibitor in 1985 there was a large British presence brought together by the BJGF. There must have been 20 British manufacturers and designers together in Hall 2.1, and in Hall 2.0 there was a large group of British antique dealers. In that first year the stands were very basic. I remember my two small windows were made of grey painted chipboard. They looked so bad I went to the local DIY shop and bought some stick-on wallpaper.

I continued to return to Basel, as I could not (and still can’t) see why I shouldn’t sell my jewellery all over the world. But the big demise of the British came at Basel in 1994, when the first prestige jewellery hall was created. We were the only British company invited to join this exclusive area; everyone else had to move to Hall 3 if they wished to stay. I was very flattered but could not afford the huge area I had to take. The solution was to divide this enormous space with two other British companies – McCabe McCarty and David Soley. We exhibited like this for three years alongside the major European brands.

BaselWorld has changed a lot in 29 years at the expense of smaller, often more creative companies. Watches are increasing their dominance, however I believe the show is aware of this imbalance and is planning to increase the jewellery sector again.
I am sure that if I was starting out today it would be impossible to exhibit at BaselWorld due to the high costs. However, I strongly advise any British designers to visit BaselWorld to see for themselves the incredible jewellery and stands.

We are now a 99% export business, and currently exhibit at BaselWorld, Couture, About J, VicenzaOro, and this year Hong Kong. But of course, we have signed the contract to exhibit at BaselWorld 2015, where we look forward to celebrating our 30th year.

Leading British luxury jeweller Rodney Rayner penned this column for the May issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.

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