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INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY, THE ANTI-CRISIS RECIPE OF ITALIAN GOLD
“Awareness of the current international difficulties with confidence in its own strengths”, would be a fitting description for the present position of the Italian gold jewellery sector. It is a division with a strong export tendency that is perfectly summed up by one figure: its export quota represents more than 70% of total production.
When you are going through complex phases like the present one, in which the global nature of the crisis makes it particularly difficult to identify clear solutions and find absolute reference points, the difference between a weak sector and a strong one could be summed up as follows: the first succumbs, whereas the second relies on its own strengths to start again with renewed energy in a changed context, fully aware that the difficulties are not yet over. “The strengths of the Italian gold jewellery sector,” explains Stefano de Pascale, director ofFederorafi, the federation that unites more than 800 companies, “are its facility for innovation, both with products and processes, and the distinct creativity of our products”.
Italy remains at a highly competitive level within the gold jewellery sector, both in the area of handcrafted products, with the remarkable workmanship that is characteristic of its national school, as well as that of the so-called partially hand-made items, or industrialised serial production. What keeps Italy one step ahead, de Pascale points out, “is precisely its excellent performance in the production and export of both types of articles.” The value of national production has also a prestigious immaterial component. “Italian products,” explains de Pascale, “have a cultural dimension. Tradition is an inherent value in every single one of our products and by their very existence and presence in international markets they communicate their belonging to a precious heritage.”
The strengths of the Italian gold jewellery sector, which does not just include gold craftsmen and industrialists but extends to those who work with silver, coral, cameos and precious metals, with or without gems, include one of a structural nature: the existence of production districts concentrated in very well-defined areas. The main centres are Arezzo, Valenza Po and Vicenza, without forgetting the areas of Milan and Naples, with coral production concentrated in Torre del Greco and silver in the Marche. There are also other reference areas in Padova, Rome and Sicily. The strength of these areas lies in their self-sufficiency: the supplies the producers need are usually available within each district. The creation of these proper subsidiary industries “helps ensure efficiency,” de Pascale further underlines.
Its export capacity has been a feature of the gold jewellery sector for years but it has been refined in recent times. “This is thanks to creation of a series of important trade fair events,” the Federorafi director suggests, “which help the companies adapt to the world markets.” In Vicenza there are three fairs each year: in January (which features over 1,500 exhibitors, “huge, basically”, highlights de Pascale), in May and September, one held in Arezzo and the other in Valenza Po. Apart from the European Union countries and the United States, both of which are traditional destinations that absorb most of our exports, the Arab countries are also a good market for Italian jewellery. The Far Eastern markets are much more difficult to penetrate, but are a strategic prospect for the future. They are currently made difficult by import duties and counterfeiting risks, “which is a common problem,” underlines de Pascale, “for Italian exporting manufacturers.”