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Curried egg sandwich in hand, I enjoyed a pleasurable breakfast meeting this month at the glamorous St James’s Court in London learning about the historic Indian jewels that will star in the V&A Museum’s upcoming jewellery exhibition Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection.

The exhibition will open in London in November this year as a celebration of jewels from or inspired by the Indian subcontinent, with about 100 objects lined up to appear.

As well as the spectacular historic artefacts you would expect – a Golconda diamond given to Queen Charlotte by the Nawab of Arcot in 1767 and a jewelled gold tiger’s head finial from the throne of the Tipu Sultan of Mysore, to name but two – there will a section titled Contemporary Masters to highlight the continuing influence of traditional Indian jewellery.


Armita Singh

New York-based designer Armita Singh creates fashion jewellery
inspired by traditional Indian designs, such as this South Fork necklace.


There are two stars of this section of the show, one is Indian and one is not, perhaps perfectly demonstrating the power of India’s influence on the rest of the jewellery world, not just in terms of design but also techniques such as enamel work and kundan, a method of setting gemstones in gold.


JAR Silver Mountain
This emerald brooch by JAR was inspired by Mughal architecture and will be part of Bejewelled Treasures at The V&A in London. This long knuckle ring by Silver Mountain covers your whole finger, in which it contains diamonds, sterling silver and emerald


The non-Indian jeweller is JAR – American Joel Arthur Rosenthal who bases himself in Paris. The V&A will display a brooch created by the jeweller in 2002 that references Mughal architecture with a central emerald stone held in place between two sheets of rock crystal with a white agate background and a diamond- and ruby-set frame.


Viren Bhagat Arihant Star
It took Viren Bhagat 10 years to collect
the 24 Burmese cabochon rubies set
in this ruby, pearl and diamond necklace.
Natural Fancy Yellow-Green and
Brown Pink Diamond Pendant by Arihant Star


As for the Indian superstar jeweller, that will be Viren Bhagat, who many believe to be up there competing with JAR for the title of greatest jeweller of our time, although just like JAR he is not necessarily a well-known global name. As well as having his work on display, the V&A has commissioned a special film starring Bhagat that will debut at the exhibition.


Cartier Gemco Designs
This emerald, sapphire and diamond brooch made by Cartier in 1922 reinterprets Indian jewels in an Art Deco style and will be on show at Bejewelled Treasures at The V&A in London. Aquamarine, diamond, .925 Sterling Silver Bangle made by Gemco Designs


All this discussion of traditional Indian jewels and their power of influence – even Cartier fell under the spell of Indian jewels in the 1920s, reinterpreting them in Art Deco style, a piece of which will be included in the show – led me to thinking about modern Indian jewellers and the role they play in today’s industry.

Indian jewellery is no longer restricted to the sort of heavy gold traditional jewels that we instinctively think of when this category is referenced. Bhagat is joined by a wealth of contemporaries who are transforming the reputation of Indian jewels, creating fresh, modern designs that use bold colour intuitively and have a spiritual depth that references the culture from which they have come. 


Bina Goenka Shehzad Zaveri of Minawala Jewellers
Bina Goenka created this handbag for ethical gemstone miner Gemfields using gold, diamonds, tourmalines, pearls, amethyst, Zambian emeralds and rubies from Mozambique. Shehzad Zaveri of Minawala Jewellers was inspired by croquembouche when designing this tiered emerald and diamond ring.


Exciting new names in this sector include Bina Goenka, who created an incredible gem-laden handbag for Gemfield’s major designer collaboration in 2013 and is promising a “creative reform in the jewellery industry, redefining creativity, luxury and minimalism”; Shehzad Zaveri of Minawala Jewellers, who describes himself as the “poet jeweller of India” and creates mind-blowing works such as an emerald and diamond ring inspired by the French patisserie art of croquembouche; and New York-based Armita Singh, who has been taking Indian-inspired jewels to the masses since launching her fashion jewellery and accessories brand in 2003 following stints working for Oscar de la Renta and Christian Lacroix.

With exciting new designers, a rich jewellery heritage to dip into and a moment in the international spotlight thanks to this much-anticipated new exhibition, it’s an exciting time for Indian jewellery. 


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The Millennial Generation (Generation Y) is rapidly eclipsing the coveted Baby Boomer demographic. Millennial retail sales are predicted to be worth USD 2.45 Trillion in 2015 and by 2018 they will bypass the Baby Boomers by forking over USD 3.4 Trillion in spending.

5 tips selling to Millennials

You need to understand who Millennials are and what motivates them. Millennials are the best educated generation in history. They are obsessed with researching everything. Through technology they are well connected to information and people. Their reach is global. Though they may never meet, they are making friends all over the planet. They are extremely busy; multitasking is a way of life. They care about happiness and love to laugh. They are concerned about doing the right thing for society and the planet.

Selling jewellery to Millennials takes an entirely different approach. Gone are the days of classic sales techniques. Here are a few tips to help you reach this powerful demographic.

Forget the ABC concept

The quickest way to get a Millennial to leave your store is to follow the old ABC rule: Always Be Closing. Constantly pounding them with closing statements makes them feel pressured. They have enough pressures in life; they don’t need you to add to it. Fine jewellery is intimidating enough. Pushy sales technique will push them right out the door.

Cut out the B.S.

Don’t try to pull the wool over a Millennial’s eyes. Know your facts and only speak the truth. Always remember; they are educated, connected, and addicted to research. They will verify anything you tell them, possibly even as you speak. If you try to baffle them with B.S.; they will know it and call you on it.

Get to the point

They are not interested in a canned sales pitch. They don’t want your entire spiel. Just tell them how your product and service will fulfil their needs and desires without all the fluff. Don’t spend much time on the 4C’s and the other basic parts of a diamond sale. More than likely they have already researched the facts. They just want to know what you are offering and how much it will cost them.

Be an adviser, not a salesman

Millennials want to know that you are listening to them. They want you to acknowledge their desires and needs. They expect you to offer solutions and advice. Take the time to nurture a relationship and build a long-term bond. Solve their problems, fill their needs and play into their desires.

Help them feel good about jewellery

When Millennials is spend money on a luxury item, they want justification beyond how it looks on them. They want to know where it came from and what good their purchase can do for others. Highlight your efforts for responsible sourcing. Try to use recycled gold and let them know about it. Create a program that gives a percentage of your profits to help others live a better life. Millennials want their money to count for something beyond your bottom line. Help them to help others.

Millennials think and respond differently from what you may expect. Accept them as they are, treat them well, tell the truth and you can build a relationship that will last a lifetime.



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One news that appeared on publications here last week has largely encouraged Indian luxury watch segment. Media reports suggest that Cartier, acknowledged for its finesse in luxury jewellery and watchmaking, is drawing a right business model to set up its second boutique in India. Cartier has already been associated with Indian royalty for its fine jewellery with one exclusive boutique in New Delhi.

The inclinations of the Indian consumers towards luxury watches have evolved over a period of time. Earlier, luxury was primarily interwoven with foreign trips and luxury watches were usually imported from Europe. As luxury watches entered Indian markets about a decade ago and the number of ‘new rich’ increased, the craze for display of wealth and social status have also increased. Luxury here has become all about flaunting the one’s wealth and consumers here have become extremely brand conscious.

Luxury watch companies making in-roads in India

Luxury watch companies making in-roads in India

According to an estimate, India’s watch market is estimated at INR 50,000,000,000 with the high-end and luxury time pieces accounting for about 20% of sales, or INR 10,000,000,000. Premium international brands are now trying to establish their presence here with time-pieces as high as INR 8,000,000 at their stores. Figures show that about 60,000 pieces of Swiss luxury watches are sold in India every year. Although, this number does not correspond to a big percentage of the Indian population, but what matters is that the luxury watch market is growing by 20% every year. Majority of luxury watch manufacturers have engaged Bollywood stars like Priyanka Chopra, Shah Rukh Khan etc. and cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar as their Brand Ambassadors.

Encouraged by India’s market potentials, Mr. Laurent Gaborit, Cartier’s Regional Managing Director for Middle East, India and Africa says, 

"India is a very important market and we have Indian consumers throughout the world. Right now, however, the market in India is still at a primary stage. But given the population, wealth and success stories of the people here, we think there is a lot of potential.”


Cartier has been facing challenges like inappropriate retail environment and the Indian consumers’ tendency to invest in unbranded jewellery. "We have to be very modest in India as the right model to do business here is not easy to find," Gaborit adds.

Moreover, high customs duty of 49% is said to the main hindrance behind limited growth of the luxury watch market in India. Switzerland-based luxury watchmaker Raymond Weil is planning four more franchise showrooms in the country over the next two years with expectations that the government would lower the high customs duty.

Mr. Olivier Bernheim, President of Raymond Weil says,

"The Indian luxury goods market is not developing the way it should because of the prevailing high customs duty. This makes it difficult to trade in luxury goods like watches. No other market poses such a situation.”

Encouraged by such potentials, one of India’s leading diamond companies C Mahendra Exports Ltd. (CMEL) has also planned to introduce its unique range of hand-made watches. The group would be launching this new product range via its retail stores and online presence that form part of Ciemme Jewels Ltd., which is a subsidiary of C Mahendra Exports Ltd. It is expected by the company leaders that the launch of this range of niche hand-made watches would allow the C Mahendra Group to reinforce its position in high-end luxury watches.

Smart Watch from Apple is also being launched in India in June or July this year. So there’s no looking back now. China’s luxury watch market may be the world’s largest but India isn’t doing badly either in this segment. The watches and jewellery represent the largest and fastest growing segments within the luxury goods space in India.



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Occupying 19,000sqm of exhibition space, Jewellery & Gem Fair - Europe (JGF Europe) opens its doors today at Messe Freiburg, Germany. Running until 25 March 2015, the Fair features over 440 exhibitors from 27 countries and regions and their quality jewellery products.


The 2nd edition of JGF Europe occupies all exhibition space in Messe Freiburg, from Halls 1 to 4 and the central foyer. The fair houses 444 exhibitors from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Poland, Russian Federation, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

The international fair also features nine group pavilions, representing Antwerp, ACODES, Germany, Hong Kong, the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), Italy, Mauritius, Thailand and the United States. Each pavilion showcases distinct market specialties. Under the product sectorisation concept, the fair is divided into three sections — loose materials, fine jewellery and packaging, tools & equipment.


“The exhibition space is bigger by roughly 20% compared to last year. This shows JGF Europe is establishing its niche in the market and there is demand for it. We not only have new exhibitors, many of our exhibitors from the pilot edition are also returning with bigger booths this time,” said Ms Celine Lau, Director of Jewellery Fairs, UBM Asia.

A series of seminars will be held during the fair by esteemed jewellery associations, including: Deutsche Gemmologische Gesellschaft e.V., USE Uhren Schmuck Edelsteine Bildungszentrum Pforzheim and GRS Gemresearch Swisslab AG. “The range of special events we offer gives buyers more opportunities to network and learn. In addition, we will host a fair reception on 22 March to celebrate the grand opening of JGF Europe,” said Ms Lau.

Six buyer delegations — comprising around 260 delegates from China, Brazil, Italy, Israel, Russia and the United Kingdom — will visit JGF Europe. Nearly 130 delegates are from China, while 60 delegates are from Brazil and 40 delegates are from the Israel Jewelry Manufacturers Association, respectively.

Admission to the fair

The fair is open only to the jewellery trade and members of the media. Visitors must present their jewellery trade business card and a valid identity card/passport upon registration. Visitors without admission badge are required to pay the admission fee of €30, which is valid for the duration of fair.

Free shuttle bus service

For the convenience of visitors, the organisers are offering a free shuttle bus service running between Basel Badischer Bahnhof/Freiburg Hauptbahnhof and Messe Freiburg throughout the fair’s four-day run.



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Baselworld is set to officially begin Thursday but Wednesday was the opening press conference for the world’s largest watch and jewellery show.


The show continues its transformation to a pure luxury event, which caused a number of exhibitors to drop out during the past two years because of a steep increase for exhibit space and demands that they spend even more for larger and more elaborate booth space. This resulted in the opening of two other trade fairs last year to accommodate these exhibitors. The largest of the two is Jewellery & Gem Fair – Europe, March 22 – 25 at Messe Freiburg, Germany, will have approximately 400 exhibitors representing all facets of the jewellery industry. The other is The Diamond Show, March 19 – 23 in Basel, which as the name suggests, is dedicated to diamond industry exhibitors.


As the show is set to begin the transformation at Baselworld continues. Two years ago the fair unveiled a new design for the massive exhibition space. Many watch exhibitors in Hall 1.0, the prime real estate at the fair, were booted upstairs to Hall 1.1 to make way for brands owned by luxury conglomerates (Swatch Group, LVMH and Kering) and the few large independent brands able to afford to exhibit there (such as Patek Philippe, Rolex and Chopard). This year many jewellery exhibitors who were exhibiting at Hall 1.1 have moved to Hall 2 in the adjacent building.


The move to pure luxury seems to have worked for the show. There may have been fewer exhibitors last year but visitor numbers continue to grow. And there are still plenty of exhibitors. In fact, the show even attracted a few luxury brands who haven’t exhibited in the past like Graff Diamonds who exhibited for the first time last year.


It also appears to be working for the new trade fairs as well. For example, JGF – Europe has expanded its exhibition space to accommodate 440 exhibitors from 27 countries and regions. According to Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs, UBM Asia, many exhibitors that attended the event last year have larger booths.

“Buyers can expect to view and source a wide range of mid-priced finished jewelry and loose materials. The fair is open on Sunday, which enables retailers to restock on inventory conveniently.”

Baselworld 2015 press conference. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Basel World 2015 Press Conference | Photo credit: Anthoyn DeMarco

The US was one of the few countries that bucked the downward global trend for the quarter and year, according to the report as global gold jewellery demand fell 10 percent year-over-year in 2014 to nearly 2,153 tons.


François Thiébaud, president of the Baselworld Swiss Exhibitors Committee, said that Swiss watch exports in 2014 increased 1.9% year-over-year to nearly $22.2 billion.


Sylvie Ritter, Baselworld managing director, described the past year as “a very busy time where we’ve seen some fundamental changes” for the Swiss watch industry, which included the unpegging of the Swiss franc to the euro, the crisis in Russia and Ukraine, the decline of growth in China, and Smart watches.


Smart watches was a major focus of the Baselworld press conference where two of the three speakers said they view the new timepieces as something that can co-exist with the traditional Swiss watch industry. No one viewed it as a threat.


Smart watches have been around for years,” Ritter said. “Lots have already been written about them but it will have no effect on traditional watchmaking.


A comparison to the introduction of the quartz movements in the 1970s and ’80s, which was a major crises at the time to the watch industry were brushed aside by the speakers.


The watch crises of the 1980s was totally different,” said François Thiébaud, president of the Baselworld Swiss Exhibitors Committee.


The speakers said that they view smart watches as different markets that have different appeal that can coexist.


I am convinced it is a different world,” Ritter said. “These two worlds are complimentary rather than antagonistic.


Another topic at the press conference was the sudden removal in January of the 1.20 Swiss franc currency cap to the Euro. The Swiss National bank placed the currency peg three years so stabilize prices of exports in Europe. The removal in January by the Swiss National Bank caused the Swiss currency to rise against the Euro and other world currencies, increasing Swiss exports.


Thiébaud, said the currency change so far hasn’t impacted the market. Since January, Swiss exports have increased by 3.7% to

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.6 billion.



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