With the kickoff of Baselworld 2012 yesterday (Thursday), hopes are high that the show will be successful, despite the continuing financial and economic crisis that is still worrying the European continent. When it comes to Basel, the first priority at the show is the watches.
On the first couple of days, the buyers head straight to Hall 1 where all the big brand name companies are located in the hopes of grabbing limited edition lines.
As always, if you don’t have an appointment, there’s no chance of getting in. Security guards protect many of the booths, keeping browsers firmly outside the coveted inner sanctuaries of companies such as Rolex.
The emphasis on watch buying means that the walkways and booths in Hall 2, where most of the jewelry brands are situated, are almost eerily quiet. However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t foot traffic. There was, but it was incomparable compared to the heaving crowds circulating around the monolithic watch stands. In the next couple of days, buyers are sure to filter down to the jewelry halls.
When it comes to jewelry trends, one of the most obvious ones this year has to be butterflies. While a few years ago it was all seemingly homage to the macabre with skulls and other slightly ghoulish icons, this year – perhaps in a bid to lighten potentially worried moods – butterflies have found their way into many display cases.
Italian fine jewelry house Damiani has a stunning new collection called, simply, “Butterfly.” Forming part of its Masterpiece range of uber-high end pieces, the line is comprised of white gold butterflies – which comes in three different sizes –embellished with multicolor sapphires and diamonds.
The standout piece of the collection, the Masterpiece necklace, has two detachable butterflies that can be used as a pendant or brooch. This versatility is also seen in the other butterflies in the line, which can be worn as a pendant, a brooch or set on a ring.
The collection also includes a bracelet-ring made of three elements: a spring lock bracelet, a joining piece and a ring. The bracelet can either be worn in combination with the ring or both pieces can be worn alone, making them more accessible.
Another company embracing the butterfly motif is Sicis Jewels, which launched its first-ever jewelry collection today. The company is based in Ravenna, Italy, and is renowned for its art mosaics. In what it terms “a natural evolution,” Sicis has reinterpreted the age-old technique of micro mosaic. As well as the butterflies, sea creatures, tigers and flowers have all been painstakingly reproduced in micro mosaic, using tiny pieces of glass and gold, to create jewelry that is truly different and eye-catching.
The company is hoping to appeal to buyers in the same regions where it sells its mosaics and furniture, such as the Middle East, Russia and India. Certainly, some of the larger, more intricate pieces would not find an easy home in the U.S. and Europe. On just the first day of its launch, it is impossible to gauge reaction, but Eleanor Milano, seemed relieved about the positive reactions the collection had gauged so far. “I feared we would not be understood,” she said. “Of course, it always goes down to taste, but I worried that people would not understand what is behind the designs.” So far, she said, there had been almost complete enthusiasm for the brand.
If butterflies were proving one trend, pinks, lilacs and soft purples seem to be providing another. Brazilian company Brumani is never afraid to use exciting color combinations, and its new collections are no different. The Confetti and Streamers line makes good use of the move towards pink seen in so many display cases. The line utilizes yellow gold set with pink sapphires, rose quartz and yellow sapphires. The company’s Panaché collection also falls at the pinker end of the spectrum with its use of mutli-colored sapphires, diamonds, morganite and rose gold.
The company’s Eduardo Brüner is optimistic that the show will be a good one – even Brumani’s best ever. However, the expectations fuelling that philosophy are buyers coming all the way from Latin America and Eastern Europe, including Russia, Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic rather than those from the U.S. or central Europe.
Over at Belgian jewelry company Hulchi Bellini, business was much better than expected, and certainly much busier than the company’s Sophie Depuydt would have expected for the first day of the show. She had seen customers both old and new, including those without appointments.
With rising gold and diamond prices, the company has recently launched some pieces using gemstones rather than its traditional, high quality diamonds. For the same reason, Hulchi Bellini is also making items using Chinese pearls. Given the level of business at the booth, it is a move that buyers seem to be endorsing. Let’s hope others will be as busy.