When estate dealers Thomas Faerber and Ronny Totah launched GemGenève in May 2018, they aimed to create the perfect antidote to the declining Baselworld watch fair: an intimate show, organized by the trade for the trade, that would offer every sector of the industry the attention it deserved. This applied equally to diamonds and gemstones, vintage jewelry, labs, and emerging designers.
The sixth edition of the fair, which took place in Geneva from May 11 to 14, cemented its status as an unmissable stop on the European trade-show circuit. The organizers recorded 4,320 visitors, 1,400 of whom attended more than once, bringing the total number of visits to 6,487 — an increase of more than 1,000 from the November 2022 event.
“We’re proud that with this most recent edition, GemGenève has now become an established part of the cultural fabric of Geneva and the international scene,” said Totah.
Exhibitors reported steady traffic and positive sentiment during the four-day event, with Thursday and Friday being particularly strong. Some conducted successful business transactions during the VIP preview the Wednesday afternoon before the show. Buyers included international retailers, leading jewelry houses, collectors and private buyers. The big brands’ colored-stone and diamond-buying teams could be seen systematically walking the aisles.
The show is more focused toward the brands, so the product offering is top-shelf. Prices tend to be in line with that clientele.
Kunal Shah, president of New York-based diamond company Pristine Gems, didn’t exhibit at the show but visited because he saw it as a good place to get a feel for the current demand and pricing.
“The show is more focused toward the brands, so the product offering is top-shelf,” said Shah, whose company specializes in the high-end market. “Prices tend to be in line with that specific clientele.”
Austy Lee ring. (András Barta)
Another company that didn’t have a booth but attended the Geneva event was Indian diamond manufacturer Dimexon. After a lukewarm beginning to the year, the “real sense of positivity at GemGenève” offered hope for a more robust second half, said company director Vishal Mehta.
His trip to Geneva was a successful one, he related. “There was strong interest demonstrated at the show for exceptional diamonds, and we were part of some encouraging discussions regarding potential business for the remainder of the year for certified and melee diamonds. For exceptional colored gemstones, we understand that there was strong demand, with successful transactions executed at the show.”
Returning exhibitor Harsh Maheshwari, executive director of Kunming Diamonds, concurred that the overall sentiment at the show was positive. However, this year’s edition didn’t live up to last year’s results. “We had a very busy first two days of the show, and overall had a few good sales,” he reported. “But both the GemGenèves last year were better for us.”
This was a reflection of the general market, rather than a criticism of the show, added Maheshwari, who specializes in fancy-colored diamonds. His conversations and transactions with clients and peers signaled that the middle to ultra-high-end segments would only see a drop in demand, not in prices.
“Fancy colors have always been a rare specimen, and with even more shortage of supply, we will maintain a decent year ahead, just not as exceptional as the last two years,” he said.
Designer Lia Lam (left) and jewelry historian Vivienne Becker. (András Barta)
Dealing with logistics
With GemGenève becoming a biannual event — the next show is planned for November 2 to 5 — exhibitors will have another opportunity this year to gauge the health of the market. The organizers added the second edition in 2022 at the exhibitors’ request because trade fairs were not going ahead in Asia at the time.
The reintroduction of the Hong Kong shows might affect the Geneva event, remarked co-organizer Nadège Totah, Totah’s daughter, in an interview for the event’s in-house publication. “If all the exhibitors have a very good show in Hong Kong, we will discuss with them whether it makes sense to come back a month later with the same goods and the same buyers. We have the flexibility to be able to cancel or postpone even at very short notice.”
She also said the show might consider having editions in Dubai or Singapore, though she ruled out the US because regulations made it more challenging.
Back in 2018, GemGenève hosted 147 exhibitors, including 120 dealers. In May, 192 professional dealers out of 230 total exhibitors showcased at Geneva’s Palexpo — the highest number the organizers have ever agreed to host. While they aim to keep the fair a friendly size, the growth speaks for itself.
Teresa Escudero, creative director at Rites of Passage Art Jewellery. (András Barta)
This article is from the July-August 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.
Main image: GemGenève reception. (András Barta)