Jewelry exports by Italy dropping sharp

Jewelry exports by Italy dropping sharp

Svetlana Kovalyova, VICENZA - Reuters
Jewelry exports by Italy dropping sharp

Italy is Europe’s top jewelry exporter, which dominates global markets. AFP photo

Jewelry exports from Italy, Europe’s top producer and exporter, fell at least 10 percent in volume in 2011 and are likely to drop again this year as global economic slowdown saps consumer demand, senior industry officials have said.

“There is a crisis. People have less money, people lose jobs. The first thing they give up on buying is jewelry,” Licia Mattioli, chairman of the Italian goldsmiths’ federation Federorafi, told Reuters in an interview on Jan 14. “2012 will be a very difficult year,” Mattioli said at an international jewelry fair in northern Italy.

Italian jewelry exports fell at least 10 percent in volume last year, she said, citing preliminary estimates and adding that it was too early to give an estimate for 2012.

Jewelry exports from Italy fell by 5.4 percent year-on-year in volume in the first six months of 2011, with declines on such major markets as the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Hong Kong, according to data provided by organizers of the Vicenza fair.

China, Turkey, India rising

Demand for gold for manufacturing jewelry, a major driver on world precious metals markets, fell as jewelrs cut output to meet sluggish demand at home and abroad, Federorafi Director Stefano de Pascale said.

Italy’s jewelry industry, which sells about 70 percent of its production abroad, used to dominate global markets, but its market share has fallen in recent years due to increased competition from China, India and Turkey.

The current economic crisis is perceived differently by jewelry manufacturers and their consumers than the global crisis of 2008/09, however.

“Every day people hear about country (debt rating) downgrades, about the economy slowing down. They are confused and scared, and even those who have money put off buying jewellery,” Mattioli said.
Exclusive jewelry designer Roberto Coin said the general mood is more discouraging now than in 2008/09, even though sales of his diamond-rich gold jewelry rose 30 percent last year. “Now no one understands the reason of this crisis and does not know what to expect,” Coin told Reuters at the fair.
High gold prices, which rose 10 percent in 2011 and are on the rise again this year, have been depressing demand. In response, jewelrs are cutting the weight of their precious metal pieces to soften the blow for consumers.

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