I’ve been at this magazine for three years, and, if I am being honest, after joining I quickly became accustomed to a downbeat atmosphere at the major trade shows in the industry.
Long after the ONS told us that the technical definition of ‘recession’ was no longer applicable to the British economic situation, there remained a palpable sense that the downturn’s tendrils were still reaching into the jeweller’s shop.
This year, at IJL, the mood was startlingly different. For those of you who do not exhibit at shows, a poorly kept trade secret is that the organisers throw a drinks party for exhibitors (of which Jewellery Focus is always one) at the end of the first day.
To my surprise, a certain ruddy-cheeked cheer on the faces of hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers characterised the affair. A glass (or two) of champagne down and I still had my journalist’s hat on, asking as many people as I could how the first day had gone. Not a single person told me it had been disappointing – spirits were high in a way that I have not seen before at jewellery’s gently-boozed congregations.
I got back to the office some days later, buoyed by the fact that so many of our readers and our advertisers were enjoying an uplift, to find data bearing out the impression I had taken from the event. The 9ct gold hallmarking figures have soared, platinum has jumped too, retail chains are opening more jewellery stores, and a litany of new brands keen on the UK market were angling for coverage. This, I thought, is an industry getting back on its feet.
There is of course no room for complacency, and the all-important Christmas selling period is yet to yield its results, but I and many who I spoke to were in agreement: it’s been an unusually encouraging summer.