International Jewellery London has seen vast changes in its first 60 years, expanding hugely from its modest beginnings in the Royal Albert Hall when it was mainly a watches fair, and is now a leading industry showcase for innovation.
Now IJL, which takes place in the vast open space of Olympia GRAND and is organised by Reed Exhibitions, has become the UK’s leading upscale jewellery fair, attracting retailers from home and abroad, and presenting the best among the latest jewellery designs by leading brands and up-and-coming designer-makers.
When the show began in 1955, then known as the International Watch and Jewellery Fair, it had 130 exhibitors, many of them watch brands such as Rolex, Omega and Longines.
This year, IJL expects more than 550 exhibitors – and around 10,000 trade visitors – comprising mainly jewellery, ranging from fast-growing brands like Endless Jewelry to design graduates aspiring to be the brands of the future.
IJL today offers a variety of business opportunities for the thousands of visiting retailers.
At last year’s show, Alexandra Morris Robson of Augustine Jewels spoke of brisk orders for her red and green gem-set gold Christmas cuffs; Babette Wasserman introduced her new Istanbul collection, inspired by mosaics seen on her travels to the Turkish city; and Arlene Katorza, designer of Scottish brand I Love a Lassie, spoke of strong interest in her new Hard-Wear collection, inspired by memories and mementos of her grandfather.
Innovation is a key theme of IJL today, with its initiatives like Bright Young Gems and KickStart which promote young talented craftspeople, to its seminars, which explore the most challenging issues facing the industry, such as undisclosed synthetic diamonds, and give tips to retailers on how to market more efficiently using the latest social media.
IJL today provides an essential annual networking opportunity for the trade in a glamorous setting, bringing suppliers and retailers together for a relaxing glass of wine and a catch-up chat, on a far bigger scale than the modest gatherings 60 years ago.