Vicenza in January is a good show to visit to get a feeling of how the global jewellery industry is faring at the start of a new year. And despite the gold price and the Euro crisis, the show felt pretty upbeat. It was certainly busy – mainly with Italian buyers. But the most interesting thing I noticed was how many of the big Italian brands are now owned by Indian companies – and now focusing their designs firmly at China and the wider Asian market rather than their traditional Italian gold strongholds of the US and Europe.
Dragon motifs were in abundance (it is the Chinese year of the dragon, after all) and a lot of gold manufacturers were promoting ‘light weight’ or even ‘feather weight’ gold jewellery – hollowed out chains and gold beads, cut-out designs and jewellery that really had more carat weight in fresh air than 18ct gold. One stand caught my eye because of the commercial appeal of the designs and the colour of the gold (a vintage-looking rose gold, really pretty).
I assumed that the pieces were vermeil. But no. It was 9ct gold. And very nice it was too. The company is called Laurent Gandini, based in Milan. All the jewellery is made using lost wax casting in Italy and retail prices start at around £300. Although, looking at net-a-porter.com (the brand’s only international outlet) I see that the prices are much, much higher. Who, I wonder would pay over a thousand pounds for a pair of 9ct earrings? It may not be the brand that you would immediately go out and place a large order, but what is interesting, in my eyes, is the use of 9ct gold. I have been saying for some time that the time is ripe for a resurgence of 9ct. While tonnes of old 9ct lockets, gate bracelets and St Christophers are being scrapped, there is a gap in the market for fashionable, desirable 9ct jewellery. Someone, somewhere will eventually start making 9ct gold fashionable again. But that someone will most likely be Indian or Chinese.