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Prime mover

Stefanie Mändlein is making new plans for the jewelry trade fair Inhorgenta

Platinum, gold, and diamonds: When the jewelry, precious stone, and watch industries present their latest treasures at Inhorgenta, the halls of the Messe München exhibition center fill with glitz and glamour. However, the event itself, Germany’s main meeting place for these industries, had lost some of its importance over recent years.

Exhibitor numbers fell by over 20 percent between 2013 and 2016. Long-term customers such as Fossil suddenly decided not to attend and visitors also increasingly stayed away. It was almost as if the world of pearls and precious stones had become less fashionable.

The jewelry industry under pressure

Until Stefanie Mändlein took over the project management. “Cautious consumer spending, falling revenues in China and the competition of e-commerce put the industry under a considerable amount of pressure,” she says. “Against this background, many of our customers had second thoughts about attending.”

“A trade fair won’t be successful unless you conduct intensive discussions with customers and partners, take their wishes and needs into account and realize these with your own ideas,” says Mändlein.

Mändlein did both of these things. She introduced new hall concepts, improved the presentation options, and made the accompanying events more attractive, all of which laid the foundations for the turnaround. She was convinced from the start that the trade fair itself had by no means outlived its usefulness.

”People want to get to know one another.” – Stefanie Mändlein, project manager Inhorgenta

“Particularly at a time when we are overwhelmed with information and offers, ­Inhorgenta is the ideal communication platform,” she says. “The majority of business is still done through personal contacts. People want to get to know one another.”

Shows, awards and the shop of the future

Inhorgenta is now the perfect place to do this. At the revamped shows, top international models like Nadja Auermann present couture jewelry embellished with diamonds and other precious stones from companies such as Escada. The jury for the newly established Inhorgenta Awards, which go to the best of the best in six categories, is made up of prominent figures from the fashion world, for example, designer Michael Michalsky

At the Inhorgenta Forum, industry experts provide their audience with food for thought: In February, former Google manager Jeremy Tai Abbett gave a presentation on the shop of the future. The Inhorgenta Trendfactory series of fairs in Hamburg, Düsseldorf or Frankfurt have also proved their worth as discussion platforms for the industry.

“These innovations have significantly increased our media presence and given the trade fair greater emotional appeal,” says Mändlein.

This is what motivated her to launch another event, known as Fusion: a jewelry and watch show deliberately aimed at a small group of around 60 premium exhibitors that will take place for the first time in fall 2018 in Berlin. The aim is to make this event the permanent second high point of the year.

“We feel very positive about how things are going,” says Mändlein, and she knows she has the figures to back her up. In 2017, Inhorgenta saw a significant increase in both exhibitor and visitor numbers. And one old friend returned: the watch and jewelry supplier Fossil.