Feb 17, 2020

IIJS Signature 2020 Concludes in Mumbai; Innovation Holds Key to Success Say Exhibitors

IIJS Signature 2020 concluded successfully in Mumbai yesterday, with positive feedback from many exhibitors, who said that the show brought them good returns, even exceeding expectations in many cases, despite the multiple challenges that the industry was currently facing.

One of the most common responses was that the show truly lived up to its billing as a B2B show that kickstarts the buying season, and that the timing was suited to sealing deals for the forthcoming wedding season and the Akshaya Tritiya festival, one of the biggest and most auspicious days for buying gold jewellery in India.

Exhibitors were also generous with their accolades on the visitor profile – “quality visitors”, “serious buyers”, “very good”, were some of the responses, though a few others did express the opinion that “footfalls were low” and “business could have been better”.

What accounts for this dichotomy? Innovation, it appears, is one of the key ingredients for success. Companies with product ranges that mostly followed traditional norms, and had little to differentiate them from a number of others present at the show, faced challenges. However, the companies that introduced innovations in their product offerings, those that had something new and different, seemed more than happy at the response from the show.

Ashish Sand, Co-founder and Director of Savio Jewellery which is based in Jaipur, was very upbeat about IIJS Signature. “We specialise in diamond studded jewellery with coloured stones, and we introduced a number of new collections for this show,” he said, explaining that planning commences months in advance.

“The show was very good. Our Pastelo collection was well received,” he said. It revolves around diamonds used with coloured stones in pastel shades such as Australian Opal, coral, pink sapphires, Ethiopian opal, morganite and others and was conceptualised for this forthcoming season.

“Design, quality and creativity are the key factors we focus on – whether it is for wearable 9 to 5 type of pieces or cocktail rings and other party wear, the emphasis is on a youthful look, something funky that stands out. Trendy collections with the right mix of these elements always leads to good business,” Sand avers.

“Both Indian and overseas buyers were present and besides our regular clients we had some very positive new contacts,” he concludes.

Also reaping rewards for creativity and innovation was Zar Jewels, a Mumbai based manufacturer whose director Manik Takhtani, was overwhelmed by the response. “The show was really very good and business has been really brisk,” he said as crowds continued to throng their stall even while the closing hours neared on February 16.

A range of innovative product offerings from the conceptually new “free size” bangles that open and close and can be rotated 180 degrees to make the design look different, to the captivating “Flip” bracelets which can be worn on both sides, clearly set the company apart. One side of the “Flip” collection has “a yellow gold look, and can be used by the bride for the wedding ceremony”, and the other, visible when the piece is turned about, has a “white rhodium plated finish that can be matched with evening gowns for a reception or cocktail party”, Manik explains.

The innovation goes on – there are entire sets of 22k gold jewellery with fine CNC cutting and creative use of alloys to give varied textures and finishes. In one instance, the jewellery appears like a diamond studded piece at first glance. Only a much closer look will reveal its actual identity as a gold ornament, Manik points out.

“Adapting to the needs of the market is also important,” he adds, stating that Zar has used the latest imported technology to adjust gold weight without compromising on the look and appearance. “Even an ultra thin wedding band with 12 gm of gold can appear similar to a 35 gm piece,” he said.

Another ecstatic exhibitor was Priyansh Jain of ShineShilpi, a jewellery trader from Mumbai in the B2B space. “The response to our jewellery at IIJS Signature was very good, much better than we had hoped for,” he said. “The timing was ideal as many of our retail partners were keen on replenishing stock for the forthcoming wedding season and Akshaya Tritiya, and everyone here was serious about doing business.”

ShineShilpi launched the Karishma collection in plain gold – a range of sets, earrings, chandbaalis, in traditional minakari style but with a modern finish. “In India, gold is deeply entrenched in our culture, so demand will always be good if you can create the right pieces. Even if prices rise, people won’t stop buying jewellery, though the quantity purchased may drop so the piece remains within their budget.”

Jain states that his stall was visited not only by existing clients who are spread across Maharashtra, MP, Gujarat and North India, but also new contacts from other areas. “Demand was good, though most retailers are cautious. Where previously orders would be placed on a bigger scale, now they choose to keep a much smaller quantity in stock.”

Concurring with what many others had said, Vijay Chordia of Valentine Jewellery in Jaipur said the show had been good for them. “You have to understand the tastes of consumers and the demands of the market,” he points out, saying that all the jewellery the company manufactures has a special appeal for the younger generation which is a very large and significant segment.

“Our latest offerings have lighter shades, almost pastel colours, though we continue to predominantly use the classic precious stones – tanzanites, sapphires, emeralds, which make the pieces novel and boosts demand,” he said.

“Though we mainly do traditional designs, we always ensure that they have a modern context and narrative, and a youthful appeal,” Chordia elaborates.

According to him, “The Indian market has been looking up since Diwali sales were good and there is some positive movement despite the very high gold prices. This drove demand at the show.”

On the export front, Chordia says that unexpected events like the unfortunate coronavirus epidemic are bound to have an impact on business, but “we are eagerly looking forward to the Jaipur show in April and expect it to provide a boost.”

The buoyant mood spilled over to the concurrently held IGJME 2020, despite it being smaller in size and at some distance from the main hall, albeit on the same campus.

Pietro Fantinato, Area Manager for OROSTUDIO from Italy, which manufactures gold refining machines for small and big manufacturers, as well as for large refiners and miners, in addition to equipment for purity testing at hallmarking centres and labs, said, “The show for us was quite satisfying. No complaints, we had good quality visitors, both new buyers and many return clients,”

Orostudio is the only company that offers fully automatic refining systems, and has seen its client base grow steadily over the two decades or so since it entered India, he adds. “We are present from Delhi to Coimbatore, including at many big jewellers’ workshops, where out machines are used to melt down and purify old gold jewellery brought it by customers who wish to recycle them and fashion something new. There is always interest in our products.”

Fantinato is bullish about the Indian market. “Hallmarking will be positive for us as the demand for gold with assured purity will increase and so will the network of hallmarking centers. It will benefit us, but also be good for the jewellers and customers.”

The only deterrent is the high gold prices, with the added high duties on imports. “Regulation is good and will help the industry to grow in a positive direction,” he says, welcoming the government’s hallmarking initiative, “but taxation is not.”

Also full of praise for the show was Himanshu Gupta, Partner at Eterna Industries from Agra. “I am happy at the response we received with business inquiries from India as well as the Middle East region including places like Jordan and Dubai. The show was very good when you consider the market conditions.”

In his opinion, “Machines which can help a jeweller do business better will always be in demand. Gope chains are trending now – there was good demand and interest in our machine for producing this type of chain, which is one of the few available. Earlier, Gope chains were mostly handmade, but such machines will bring about many changes.”

Gupta said that a number of jewellery manufacturers are serious about mechanisation and when a machine such as the one he offers is available which enables them to achieve a higher quality and finish, while also increasing production, they are quite eager to introduce it. “Earlier a single artisan could produce just one chain in a day, while with this machine, chains totalling up to one kg can be produced in the same time.”