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Italy’s VicenzaOro Officially Opens the 2019 Buying Season

Buyers from over 130 countries attended.

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Vendorafa Hula Hoop Collection                                                                    Monica Rich Kosann Locket Collection

WHILE MOST RETAIL JEWELERS around the world are still packing away their holiday decorations and going over their inventories, a city in northeast Italy (largely known outside of the jewelry world for its steel production, textile factories and agricultural impact) starts getting ready to welcome the jewelry industry’s elite brands, most successful retailers, and respected members of the international press. Vicenza, despite sometimes being confused by Americans with Venezia (Venice) and Valenza, Italy, is actually one of the country’s wealthiest cities. With a town center that reflects its Renaissance-era history, including 23 buildings designed by famed Italian architect Andrea Palladio, Vicenza offers much in the way of culture, food and sights, which are merely added bonuses for those who have traveled to see what the area has become known for: its jewelry.

Lydia Courtielle Nuevo-Mundo Piece

The January edition of the VicenzaOro Jewellery Boutique Show is the first major jewelry trade show of the year, every year. Buyers are treated to a visual smorgasbord that includes finished high jewelry, fashion jewelry, contemporary jewelry, loose diamonds and gems, watches, tools, mountings, findings and jewelry equipment. There are also numerous seminars, classes and panels covering topics from sustainable practices to buying trends to famous emeralds throughout history and  much more. On top of all of that, there are the small perks that often get overlooked at some of the other major trade fairs. Things like real Wi-Fi (are you listening to this, Baselworld?), nightly cocktail gatherings and a free playroom for children ages 3 and up. Many members of the press (including yours truly) are hosted guests of the show, meaning that our transportation, meals and museum tours (of which there are several) are taken care of, making our trip to the city even more enjoyable.

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January’s edition of the fair was made particularly exciting with the introduction of a handful of new exhibitors to the show’s “Design Room,” including American jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann, who showcased her popular locket collection, as well as Parisian designer Lydia Courteille, who brought along pieces from her Nuevo Mundo collection, which was inspired by her travels to Guatemala. Courteille uses a variety of brightly colored gemstones to replicate the embroidered fabric patterns of the Guatemalan culture in pieces like her Worry Doll ring, which was a show-stopping adornment that included a large, pear-shaped maxixe blue beryl. Also exhibiting at the fair was Italian brand Picchiotti, which recently hired Mark Mazzarese – former president of Mazzarese Fine Jewelry near Kansas City – to expand the reach of its U.S. sales team. And the always exciting Vendorafa went for a playful theme this year with pieces from its new Hula Hoop collection as well as editions to the Anaconda and Dune collections.

With buyers attending the fair from over 130 countries, including from the U.S. (shout out to Scott Saunders of London Jewelers, whom I briefly saw as we headed into the fair), there were not many sections of the show floor that weren’t – at times – jam-packed with people. Seminars were often standing-room only, and the multiple cafes throughout the show saw huge lines at lunch hour as well as at “Aperitivo time.” While that might seem nerve-wracking to some, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all good news for those of us in the business, because a busy show is a sign that the jewelry industry is alive, well and even possibly thriving.

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The VicenzaOro Jewellery Boutique Show does a lot of things the right way, and with some trade fairs suffering from recent exhibitor departures, negative reviews or just from bad choices and poor management, it’s a show that should be looked upon as a guide to what successful jewelry trade fairs could be if they just listened to the needs of their exhibitors and attendees. I mean, after all, isn’t that what everyone wants at the end of the day? Whether it’s a customer, a family member, or a co-worker … we really all just want to be heard.

The next edition of VicenzaOro in Vicenza, Italy, will be held Sept. 7-11.

Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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Failed Fashion Jewelry Chain Is Coming Back

It will operate primarily as an online brand.

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Jewelry and accessories retailer Charming Charlie may have gone bankrupt and closed its 261 stores, but you can expect to see the brand resurface in coming months.

Charlie Chanaratsopon, founder of the company, is acquiring its trademarks, internet properties and other intellectual property for about $1.23 million, the Houston Chronicle reports. He was approved to buy the assets following a bankruptcy auction.

He plans to revive Charming Charlie as primarily an online brand. It will have only a few permanent brick-and-mortar stores, which will open early next year.

The company’s main advantage is its 10-million-strong customer base, said Chanaratsopon, former CEO of Charming Charlie.

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“In this age of retail, we still see an opportunity for the brand to thrive in the online ecosystem,” he said, according to the Chronicle.

The company said in July that it was closing all of its stores in connection with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed July 11.

Read more at the the Houston Chronicle

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Online Jewelry Brand Raises $6.2M in Funding

Ross-Simons has taken a majority stake.

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CRANSTON, RI — Luca + Danni Inc., a online jewelry brand based in Rhode Island, has closed on $6.2 million in funding, with Ross-Simons Inc. becaming the majority investor in the deal.

PJC, a Boston-based VC Fund and early investor in Luca + Danni, will retain a stake in the company.

The investments “create a powerful partnership between an iconic jewelry company and three-year-old digital brand,” according to a Luca + Danni press release.

Fred Magnanimi, founder of Luca + Danni, will remain as CEO and board member.

“I started this brand to honor my family’s 50+ year heritage in US made handcrafted jewelry and help others embrace the journey of life as I learned to do after losing my brother to leukemia,” said Magnanimi. “With the amazing resources and strategic support of Ross-Simons and PJC, I am confident we will help millions embrace their own journey and continue to build our community.”

Ross-Simons, also based in Rhode Island, has a long history in retail and direct-to-consumer jewelry sales.

“Luca + Danni is a digitally native brand rapidly taking market share in the jewelry space,” said Jim Speltz, president of Ross-Simons. “Our resources, product expertise, and go-to-market experience matched with Luca + Danni’s powerful brand will foster meaningful growth in the evolving e-commerce world.”

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She Woke Up Without Her Engagement Ring. Guess Where Doctors Found It …

It all started with a dream. (Story with video.)

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A San Diego woman woke up without her engagement ring, and she immediately remembered a dream she’d had the night before.

One where she’d swallowed her engagement ring.

Jenna Evans immediately told her fiance, Bob Howell, and they headed to urgent care. She told the story in a Facebook post that has gone viral, garnering 62,000 shares as of Sept. 16.

She ended up seeing a gastroenterologist, who performed an upper endoscopy.

“Everything went great, they found my ring just beyond my stomach in my intestines, retrieved it and gave it to Bobby, not me,” she wrote.

She also divulged a bit about the dream that got her into the predicament.

“I was having a dream that Bobby and I were in a very sketchy situation involving a high speed train and bad guys (I have very exciting and vivid dreams) and he told me I had to swallow my ring to protect it; so I popped that sucker off, put it in my mouth and swallowed it with a glass of water riiiight about the time I realized what I was doing,” she explained. “I assumed this too was a dream, because WHO ACTUALLY SWALLOWS THEIR ENGAGEMENT RING, so I went back to sleep.”

The ring was made by Simone Jewelry Designs in Houston. CBS8 reports that it includes a 2.4 carat diamond.

Watch a news video about the incident:

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