CAIRO: The eighth annual JEM exhibition for jewelry kicked off Wednesday night at the InterContinental CityStars Hotel, heralding the start of a critical week for jewelers who hope to use the country’s premier jewelry event to keep their heads above water in this unfriendly economic environment.
And the four-day event kicked off in style with the presentation of a cake celebrating JEM’s eighth birthday.
As Daily News Egypt reported earlier this week, jewelers and jewelry experts have reported different reactions to the economic slowdown.
“After Ramadan, it slowed down a little bit because people aren’t sure whether to spend the money or keep it, said Raafat Nassar, son of the Egypt Gold and Iram Jewelry CEO.
Early in the evening, the Iram booth was nearly empty, though crowds swarmed the company’s gold stand.
Nassar noted that the gold had been selling far more rapidly than had been anticipated.
Iram Jewelry is a subsidiary of Egypt Gold, which was started 15 years ago.
Nassar, who said that Egypt Gold had been attending JEM for the last four or five years, noted that Iram sales might be slower because of shifting styles.
“Now it’s simpler than before, he said, arguing that the fashion this year was to take a more minimal approach to jewelry, wearing fewer and smaller pieces.
Sherine Maairgy has been involved with JEM since its inception eight years ago. In those eight years, she argues, JEM has not only grown tremendously but also helped to reshape the jewelry industry in Egypt.
Maairgy is the JEM project manager from Horizon Fairs, a company which manages many of Egypt’s top trade fairs.
A total of 75 companies, Maairgy noted, were attending JEM this year.
“This year is more. Last year was 61, the year before was 53, she said. “JEM started eight years ago with around 30 exhibitors.
She also argued that the conference has helped bring the Egyptian jewelry industry up to speed with the international jewelry community.
“The jewelry market is getting educated, she said. “The jewelers are getting a more professional way. They know how to participate in an international conference. This was not the trend three years ago.
When JEM started, the community of attending jewelers was largely comprised of foreigners.
According to Maairgy, local Egyptian jewelers did not understand the value of exhibitions like JEM.
“Our local market, all they think about is profit and sales, she said.
“Exhibitions are not for sales, they are for building relationships, and maintaining new concepts, and marketing yourself in a very intimate atmosphere.
Starting several years ago, things began to change and Egyptian companies began flocking to exhibitions like JEM.
“Egypt was placed on the international map of exhibitions two years ago, she said. “Our local market is taking a much bigger part.
Whereas a strong international presence at the outset of the conference eight years ago prompted domestic vendors to participate, the domestic jewelers have now begun to bring more international firms into the fold.
Domestic vendors “are inviting international brands. There are jewelers that have more than five or six international brands in their booth.
Maairgy also praised vendors for adapting to tough economic times.
“They are doing offers, and surprises, and discounts-they’re trying, she said.