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Diamond trade shows are a traditional get-together of diamond jewelry retailers and dealers and customers. The former showcases and demonstrates their products and services while the latter compares prices, quality, and after-sales service, among many others. While it is beneficial to both, it is most favorable to diamond retailers because of the worthwhile networking opportunities involved and the opportunity to consolidate their month-long selling processes to a mere few days.
As sparkling as the diamond trade shows sound, the recent turn of events has caused its downward spiral as the novel coronavirus, officially COVID-19, grinds the events world to a halt.
This raises the question: What can we do as an industry looking forward? What does the future hold for diamond trade shows?
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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Diamond and Jewelry Industry
To date, there are over 1.5 million positive COVID-19 cases globally with the USA and Europe leading the record; hence, it’s not shocking that escalated measures such as strict home quarantine, lockdown, and physical distancing are in place. The banning of public and private gatherings exposes the vulnerability of the diamond industry. There have been notable impacts on the diamond and jewelry industry since the global widespread of the coronavirus. As shown below, these impacts reverberate around the supply chain, trade, and diamond events.
- The Hong-Kong based jewelry group Chow Tai Fook cancelled operations in 40 stores in the country after its sales decreased by 60% due to the coronavirus outbreak
- The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) cancelled two of its shows – the HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show and the HKTDC Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show originally scheduled for March 4-8 and March 2-6 respectively.
- India’s rough diamonds supply was expected to fall by 10 to 15% in February and March due to the effect of coronavirus outbreak on Hong Kong and China’s market – two of the country’s main suppliers.
- The Watch & Wonders Geneva cancelled its April 2020 exhibition.
- Baselworld’s April 30 – May 5 show was postponed to January 2021.
- Diamond prices dropped by 1.6% for 1-carat diamonds using the RapNet Diamond Index (RAPITM).
- The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) cancelled its March Jewelry Career Fair in New York.
- The JA New York team cancelled its JA New York show
- The Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) Expo was postponed and moved to October 2020.
- The trading halls at the Israel Diamond Exchange was closed.
- The American Gem Society (AGS) suspended all its diamond grading activities for a month.
- Antwerp’s diamond bourses shut its trading floors
- JCK postponed its JCK Las Vegas show and its sister show, Luxury.
- The Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) and Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) held an online diamond trade show.
- The GIA closed its select laboratories and suspended operations at select gemological schools like Bangkok, Carlsbad, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, and Surat.
- De Beers cancelled its sight schedule in Gaborone Botswana.
- Signet Jewelers put its workers on furlough.
- Couture, the Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, as well as the AGTA GemFair Las Vegas, were all cancelled.
The list above shows how the diamond and jewelry industry is especially vulnerable to the pandemic. These are just a few but they are stark evidence of the way the outbreak has impacted the industry.
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The First-Ever Online Diamond Trade Show
Adapting to the coronavirus restrictions, the Israel Diamond Industry and Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) held the first-ever online diamond trade show last March 30 to April 3. These two organizations joined forces to gather dealers, exhibitors, and buyers from anywhere in the world in one virtual space without the risk of contracting the virus.
Offering nothing but unique selling and exhibition experience, the show worked by having registered diamond and jewelry sellers upload their stock lists in a Microsoft Excel template. These stock lists were accompanied by high-quality images and videos of all the natural stones on sale to help buyers make an informed buying decision.
GemLightbox: Helping Jewelers Navigate the Digital Jewelry World
Picup Media has always believed in the power of technology and that digital spaces are lucrative spaces that, given the right tools to match, can transform the way jewelers do business. This belief was translated into a tangible solution known as the GemLightbox.
GemLightbox is an all-in-one, plug-and-play jewelry photography and video solution that enables jewelers to capture studio-quality images and 360-videos in seconds using just the smartphone. The Picup Media team was at one with the IDI and AWDC in supporting the diamond industry not only during these challenging times but throughout the jewelers’ journey including the first-ever online diamond trading show.
From March 30 to April 3, Picup Media assisted the AWDC in capturing natural diamonds for exhibitors. The response to the show had been overwhelming and the value of technologies, like the GemLightbox, to the emerging digital commerce needs has never been this prominent. It showed its power to expand the jewelers’ sales capabilities online by meeting buyers’ tactile shopping experience through rich visual experience.
The Virtual Diamond Boutique, an online diamond, gemstones, and jewelry marketplace, made the event possible by providing a digital convention center now known as the VDB Expo app. This intuitive and user-friendly app was not only built for an industry crippled by social isolation, but it could also be an excellent and innovative supplement to traditional diamond trade shows in the future. Diamond and jewelry trade show organizers can use the app to organize online trade events, which would allow exhibitors to reach a global digital audience.
But are online diamond trade shows really a viable option in the future?
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Are Online Diamond Trade Shows Viable?
The success of the first-ever diamond online trade show in this challenging time showed us the viability of online diamond trade shows, but whether it is a viable option in the future remains to be seen.
Needless to say, there are benefits to embracing this digital approach to trade shows.
- Cost effective
First, traditional diamond trade shows can be costly for exhibitors. It involves tangible and intangible investments. For instance, aside from your time and effort, the cost of registration fees, hotel rooms, airline tickets, and other exhibition paraphernalia could cost you thousands of dollars whereas organizing online trade shows could easily eliminate some of those costs because you can do it anywhere you are in the world as long as you have internet and a computer/mobile.
- Massive online audience and increased exposure
Unlike traditional trade shows that are location-specific, the digital world knows no geographical boundaries. As such, online diamond trade shows mean you can expect a diverse group of attendees – buyers and exhibitors. This is particularly interesting for the latter because it would allow them to share their products/services with a massive digital audience which could translate to increased sales.
- Big data can help in creating lead nurturing and lead generation strategy
Traditional trade shows require physical attendance, which makes it difficult to keep track of the attendees. When organizing online diamond trade shows, exhibitors can have access to reports and analytics that they can use to keep track of every movement of their attendees. Exhibitors can analyze these reports afterward and utilize them to create lead nurturing and lead generation strategies. For instance, if you’re an exhibitor, find out the piece of collateral that the attendees have downloaded or viewed and tailor your content from these findings.
Who says you need to choose between traditional and online diamond trade shows?
The virtual trade show is a growing tool and while many businesses took their time embracing it, the unprecedented impact of coronavirus has made it a leading solution to the challenge to avoid completely paralyzing the industry.
They say the future is digital. Traditional trade shows will never go extinct, but this doesn’t mean you cannot adopt a supplement. It took a pandemic to realize the need to revolutionize the traditional diamond and jewelry trade shows. The time to answer that need has come.