Italian jewelers see gloom in 2009 as crisis hits

Sat Mar 21, 2009 12:47pm EDT
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By Svetlana Kovalyova

AREZZO, Italy (Reuters) - Italy's jewelry sector, the world's top exporter, will see more gloom this year with falling output and export sales, participants at a trade fair said on Saturday.

Italian jewelry used to dominate the world markets, but its market share has shrunk since early 2000 as lower cost rivals from India, China and Turkey advanced. Economic crisis and high gold prices have dealt it an additional blow.

"After a bad 2008, the situation has not improved in the first quarter, and it will most probably get even worse in the entire 2009," Antonio Zucchi, chairman of Italian goldsmith's body Federorafi told Reuters at the jewelry fair in Arezzo, one of Italy's three main jewelry manufacturing centers.

"The credit crunch hits everyone ... There is no liquidity," Zucchi said.

Export volumes of Italian gold jewelry fell 13-14 percent in volumes and 8 percent in value to 4.38 billion euros last year, according to estimates from Federorafi and the OroArezzo fair made earlier this week.

Some jewellejewelersrs said they hoped to see the first signs of recovery in the last quarter of 2009, when Christmas sales usually boost trade.

But Giovanni Tricca, chairman of Arezzo's promotion center which organizes the OroArezzo fair, said business was more likely to pick up next year if the economy started recovering.

Jewelers at the OroArezzo fair, which attracted buyers from more than 50 countries, said their retail and wholesale customers still had full stocks and were not placing new orders.   Continued...