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Moscow Jewelry Week: Wishful thinking or a reality?

25 january 2021

As they write now in every article about the jewelry business, the past 2020 turned out to be very difficult for the jewelry industry throughout the world. The drop in sales, the restrictions of flights, the bans, other restrictions and the cancellation of all exhibitions made all the jewelers look at their business and its prospects in a different way. A lot has already been written about this, and there will be written even more. 

In this article, I would like to dwell on such a very topical issue for the Russian jewelers as the Moscow exhibitions. Despite the fact that our NS CNC company does not directly conduct business in Russia, however, for many years, I have to visit the main Moscow Junwex exhibition held at the VDNKh (Exhibition of National Economy Achievements) every year in autumn and I visit sometimes the Junwex exhibition held in St. Petersburg where our machines are usually exhibited. My opinion is that of an outside observer. 

The size and structure of the exhibition in Moscow - as a mirror - give a true and fair picture of the state of the Russian jewelry industry. We can say that the peak of sales and active exhibitions was in 2013. The Junwex Exhibition was located in two pavilions at the VDNKh, at No.75 and No.69. Moreover, main pavilion No.75 was full. Later on, a gradual decline began and by 2019, the exhibition had shrunk to one pavilion, which was not even full. And the merchants displaying gloves and other goods that were far from the main focus of the exhibition and inappropriate in the jewelry rows suggested unhappy ideas about the future prospects of the exhibition. The jewelry industry was shrinking and the exhibition was shrinking, too. 

I’m not talking now about the abnormal 2020 and the difficulties it brought. I hope that in 2021, the epidemic will be curbed and the exhibitions will return to their previous - pre-COVID-19 - formats and sizes. 

The drop in sales and reduction in the exhibition business also affected the relationship between the Junwex organizers and a number of major exhibitors. When the business was booming, this exhibition satisfied everyone in everything. I will not go into details, but some of the participants were not pleased with how the exhibitions were organized. It all started with the Junwex exhibition in February 2020 in St. Petersburg when some companies merely refused to participate in the Junwex exhibition, but showed their exhibits just next to it at the hotel nearby. At that time, it caused a very strong negative reaction from the Junwex organizers. Obviously, there was some kind of discord among the harmonious long-term participants in the exhibition. The aggravation of the conflict was not long in coming. In the fall of 2020, simultaneously with the Junwex Exhibition at the VDNKh, the first new Exhibition-Congress J-1 was unexpectedly held at Crocus Expo. 

I could not visit Moscow in 2020 due to the restriction of flights. Therefore, I had to get the information about these exhibitions held in 2020 from many Russian colleagues of mine. Their opinions were extremely categorical and sometimes opposite. However, their general conclusions were quite interesting: 

- The Junwex Exhibition is stable, indestructible, eternal, but everyone is sick and tired of its many year lack of variety. From year to year, the same exhibit booths, the same esteemed persons cut the ribbon who are selflessly committed to solving the same painful problems of the jewelry industry (which are never solved and are just eternal), the same people award diplomas to the same outstanding jewelers. And this happens every year, invariably, nothing new! 

- the J-1 Exhibition was unusually new, there are few participants, and a compulsory administrative resource was involved. But at the same time, it was interesting and for some reason, people did not want to leave it! 

The purpose of my article is not to analyze these two exhibitions, not to interfere with the relationship between the organizers and participants, not to join the banner of any side. I’m trying to convey a very simple idea to everyone. Why not to put these two exhibitions side by side in Moscow? Not just at the same time but in different parts of the city, as it happened in 2020, but within walking distance from one another. Trying to unite and reconcile the organizers of the two exhibitions is probably senseless and unnecessary. Let each of them go their own way, use their own resources, have their own ambitions and vision of the exhibition business. Diversity does a power of good. 

The idea of ​​such an integration, or, put it more correctly, a rapprochement, did not come out of thin air. For many years, I have participated in the JCK exhibitions in Las Vegas and the MJSA ones in New York. Therefore, I saw how these exhibitions were organized and have an opinion as an ‘insider’. So, JCK is not just one giant exhibition. It includes 7 different exhibitions taking place side by side at the same time, which turned into a single Las Vegas Jewelry Week that became the leading jewelry event in the world. On a smaller scale, the same happened in New York when (after tremendous efforts of the organizers) two exhibitions - MJSA and JA - were held side by side at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Everyone benefits from such an integration - both the organizers, participants and, most importantly, the visitors. 

I don’t know how the same can be done in Moscow. Most likely, there may be voices that this is impossible and unacceptable. Each of the two organizers will probably fight to the bitter end keeping to their standpoints but never come a meter closer to the competitor. May be! But, if an ordinary jeweler, for example, from the city of Barnaul, with a bag full of advertising catalogs, does not have to get stuck in traffic jams traveling by taxi for an hour from the VDNKh to Crocus Expo, from one exhibition to another, he will be the first to say ‘thank you’ to the organizers. And next year, he will persuade his local friends and colleagues to come to this exhibition. But, may be, this will be not just an exhibition, but a Moscow Jewelry Week. 

Moscow is not worse than Las Vegas, is it?! 

Dmitri Zverev for Rough&Polished

 

Dmitri Zverev is the founder and CEO of NS CNC Manufacturing Ltd. Dmitri lives and works in Canada. Every year he and his company take part in major industry exhibitions, including JCK Las Vegas, MJSA New York, IMTS Chicago, Junwex Moscow or St Petersburg and IJT Tokyo.