A few weeks ago, I asked you to submit your questions about the Vicenza Jewelry Fair, and I promised I would answer them in a blog post. I’m sorry this post has taken me so long to write, but hopefully it was worth the wait! You had some great questions and it was a lot of fun telling you all about something I love so much.
How do you decide which vendors to meet with on each trip? Do they change or is it the same roster of factories?
Many of the factories that we meet with every time are people we have created relationships with from working with them for years. This is very helpful as they know our standards for quality, our preferences in design, etc. But we also walk the show and look at window after window looking for a new concept, aesthetic or technique that we like and when we find one, we go in, introduce ourselves and try to find a way to work with them so we can always bring you things that are new and beautiful.
Always curious if, as you shop and place orders with vendors, are you ever able to buy a sample right then and there and take it with you? Shopping is such fun when you have instant gratification, and I would be thrilled to both walk the market, but especially also take home a sample piece!
I agree! Shopping is always more fun when you can take something home! In most cases we are shopping for our business and are placing orders to be made and delivered in the future, but sometimes there is something that just catches my eye and I would really love to wear it so I will ask if it is possible for me to get a “personal”, meaning I want to buy it there. Sometimes it is possible and sometimes it isn’t, but it is always worth a try!
What criteria do you use to make such quick decisions in the pieces you choose? I know part is overall look; but what else, weight? Clasp? Cost?
Jewelry is about emotion and logic so there are a million different things to consider when i am looking for things, but there is kind of a list of priorities where if the first isn’t met there is no point in thinking of the second, etc. First and foremost it has to be something I would wear and love. It has to be something that catches my eye because it is beautiful, or different, or a better way of doing things, etc. If it’s not something I want, I don’t care about the other factors. Then we have to look at things like what metals do they work with? What is their level of quality? How high is their labor? Is this a factory with a track record or are they a complete unknown? How do they do their plating? Do they deal with the American market? What finishes and colors can they do? Do they do the whole piece themselves or outsource some of the steps or components? What is the weight of the finished piece? The price? Delivery time? etc. These are just the questions that come to mind immediately, but they inevitably lead to other questions! It’s a lot to consider, but it’s so worth it when it comes out exactly the way you wanted it to.
Are the trips to the Vicenza Jewelry Market now more fun, and less frustrating and stressful then they previously were?
I think that they are different and the demands are different. We now do not have to call back to the states and argue about what we believe in and do not have a large group of people in a morning meeting making us feel like are on trial for our decisions if we did not meet expectations on the result. Not having that on our mind during the trip is a relief. But now we are responsible for the entire chain of of events in the products we are choosing and that gives us new things to consider that we did not have to before. I have found that life is about trade offs and choosing what you want to take on the stress of. Everyone has stress, but we get to decide if we want it to be the stress of answering to others or the stress of being responsible for the process on our own. I like being responsible 🙂
How do you know when something is that “special piece”?
For me it is an emotional connection. If I am drawn to it, can’t keep my hands off of it, am begging for a sample of it, then it has to be good!
Is it invitation only? Or can anyone show up? What credentials does one need?
Any major industry show will require you to prove you are a legitimate business. They will want to know what type of business you are, what you want to do at the Fair. They will require documentation of your business, either invoices, an EIN number, a business card, etc. Different shows require different things, but the legitimate markets will do a lot to make sure you can not get in unless you have a reason to be there. They also require you to display your credentials at all times when you are in the market which is why they give everyone a lanyard to wear around your neck so they can see from a distance if you have the right to be there.
What are the newest trends? Is coin jewelry making a comeback?
There are a number of trends, ( as always), and we definitely found some good ones. Pearls are back in a big way but not in the traditional way of simply wearing a strand. They are back in new ways as details in new designs that are fresh and different or part of a piece that is very high end and very luxurious. The pearl hoops we offered were an excellent example of the new designs we saw with pearls and I absolutely love them!
Another trend is using the color black. On it’s own or as part of a multi color piece, black was a very popular color everywhere we looked at the fair.
We definitely saw more coin jewelry than before. Real coins and replicas alike. Definitely part of the rich, layering look that is so popular.
The biggest trend at the Fair was the multiple slip on bangles connected together into one large bangle. We saw some that were so large they would almost cover from your wrist to your elbow, but they were there in every size, every color, every combination of textures. It seemed like every Italian woman at the Fair was wearing a version of it whether the factory she worked with made them or not.
Do you make modifications to a piece while there, or purchase a sample and work on design updates when you leave with the piece?!
Yes, we ask for samples when we are there often those samples will have changes we have requested. Sometimes when the sample comes in it is something we are not happy with and will have another sample made with more changes before we are happy with it and feel like it is ready to order.
How do you know how many to order? Do you have a limited amount of time at each vendor or can you take as much time as you want. I’ve watched you going sooo quickly through items and choosing one’s you like — are those set in stone or do you make changes as you think about items later?
When we are sitting with a vendor, the first pass is what we want to consider. This allows us to go through and put everything we think has potential in one place. After we have gone through everything that factory has to offer we then go back through what we chose, having more context, and decide what we want samples of as-is, what we want modified and samples made, what we are not going forward with and what we want to place an order for right then. We do not have as much structure as a large company so it allows us to choose what we like and not have to just choose things to reach a number.
Do you compile a preliminary selection and then go back and make your final selections after you’ve visited all the vendors.
In a way, yes. We go through the process I just described at the factory’s booth and then make final decisions on what to order when the samples come in. This can be affected by how much of one thing we have coming or if we have seen something in the meantime that we think is a better version, etc.
What exactly do you look for at the jewelry show?
We are looking for things that you will love. They may be special higher end pieces that are a once in a lifetime, or they may be a great classic you are going to live in. But if you don’t love it, we don’t want to waste your time with it.
Does the thickness of gold on the gold over silver pieces you choose vary? Is there a way to let us know the thickness on each piece?
There are many different factors that affect how something wears. It can be the thickness, it can be the shape of the link and how much it rubs up against the links next to it. It can be whether or not it is a bracelet instead of an earring, etc. Different factories use slightly different techniques and some factories do only plating and it is a much more complicated part of the jewelry than I ever thought possible. But how a piece will wear is always part of the discussion when we are looking at things and very often we are asking them to do more plating than they originally planned.
Do you go to these markets with a set budget to spend? Do you have other investors to help with financing? How do you not buy everything you want…that would be so hard!
We do not have specific budget to spend, but I do try to be very cognizant of buying quantities that are manageable for us. We are a completely self funded small company. We have no investors or business partners so we have to be reasonable in our buying. Not buying everything I want is always hard, but luckily, the more you go to these shows, the more you have seen most things before and you are just looking for the new.
Okay, then there were some questions about Italy in general so I want to make sure I answer those too!!
Could you name one “must see” place to visit in Florence, Rome, and Venice?
Wow, that would be hard. There are so many places in every one of those cities that I would hate to have you miss. I do think that starting with the major churches is a good place to start. St Marks in Venice, the Duomo in Florence and St Peter’s in Rome are all so beautiful and so full of history that you will love seeing them for a million reasons. Some of the most beautiful art and architecture and some of the most important people in history are all represented in the churches in Italy.
You travel so often. What are your best tips for jet lag?
Oy ve! Jet lag is tough! It is going to get everyone at some point, but I try to stay awake wherever I am going until it is time to go to sleep in that time zone to force myself on to their schedule. Be aware of what keeps you from sleeping at home and apply it to traveling. If taking a nap means you can’ t sleep that night, then no naps for you on the road! If you can take a quick power nap and be ready for another few hours and sleep later, your’e golden to catch a few Z’s on the plane. I have had so much caffeine in my lifetime that I am almost immune, so I know that I can have more caffeine to keep me awake until it is time to go to bed if I stop about 4 hours before bedtime. I also know that if I am tired enough I could drink as espresso and lay down and go to sleep, lol!!!
Would you ever consider doing a tribe trip to Italy 🇮🇹? You would be the best tour guide since you have been going for many years! I’ve learned so much about Italy from you and love when you do videos when you travel! Thank you so much!
I would love to do a trip to Italy as it is one of my favorite places in the world. I am not sure when we would find the time as it could not be a buying trip and touring at the same time. When we are there working we work all day, try eat as early as possible and get to bed early to start again the next day! But maybe in the future if there is enough interest we can find a way to make it work! 😉
I hope this was informative, helpful, and fun! I would love to do more Q&A blogs, so if you have ideas for some other topics, feel free to let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂