By Virginija ZYGIENE
The XVIII International Jewellery Show “Amber Trip” – the largest event in the jewellery and amber industry in the Baltic States – will be held on 16-19 March in Vilnius. Giedrius Guntorius, the organizer of the “Amber Trip” show, talks about the exhibition and how the sector is recovering after the pandemic.
“AMBER TRIP” IS RETURNING AFTER A YEARLONG BREAK. WHAT WILL THIS EXHIBITION BE LIKE? During the first year of the pandemic, “Amber Trip” was probably the only jewellery exhibition in the world which had to be closed down only a couple of days after the opening of the exhibition due to the restrictions imposed by the Lithuanian government. The organizer of the exhibition found himself in a non-standard situation that no one could have foreseen. “Therefore, I would like to once again thank the entire community of this sector for their support and understanding that we were forced to unexpectedly close down the show. Last year we did not organize another “Amber Trip” show due to quarantine restrictions. There were attempts to organize a virtual “Amber Trip” jewellery show.
We are happy no announce that the exhibition is once again returning after a yearlong break. I admit that it is not easy to come back, since what we have cultivated before has cracked, and certain relations were lost. There were opinions that it is not worth holding the event this year, and we should wait until 2023. However, our regular and largest exhibitors encouraged us to organize this most important jewellery event in the Baltic States, even during such a difficult time. Therefore, I decided to manifest these thoughts into reality and fulfil their wishes.”
The “Amber Trip” show that will take place on 16-19 March in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, will be 85 percent the size of what we had in 2020 in terms of area and number of participants. We expected this number to be less than 50 percent. The fact that the exhibition will be larger than expected reflects the optimistic views of the future of all jewellery and amber industry participants.
In terms of challenges, there are smaller or bigger ones in every exhibition. There was no shortage of challenges both in the first year of the pandemic, as well as now, or in 2008. These challenges change every year. Even though the pandemic has not yet ended, “Amber Trip” is sending an important message to its participants and guests that the show has been reborn.
It is important to note that strict requirements for events have been lifted in Lithuania amid the subsiding pandemic. Entrance to the exhibition will be free of restrictions.
PLEASE TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS YEAR’S SHOW
“Amber Trip” participants are returning with new collections of jewellery and amber items, which were displayed online and in photos during the pandemic. Jewellery, as I say, will “land on the ground”. People naturally want to be able to touch works of art, which gives the exhibition an even greater significance.
The exhibition which will take place at Litexpo, the largest exhibition and conference centre in the Baltic States, will unite over 150 participants, jewellery and amber manufacturers and craftsmen from foreign countries around the world. As usual, we will have participants from Poland, Turkey, Italy, the USA, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, Kuwait, the Baltic States, and other countries.
As expected, there will be an international jewellery art contest, even though there were discussions on whether to hold such a contest this year. The theme of this year's international jewellery art contest is “About Opportunities”. We want to speak more in the language of jewellery about the fact that losses and restrictions often paradoxically open up opportunities within us which we didn’t even suspect. We hope to receive wonderful works of art for the contest, as usual. Artists from around the world should provide their works for the contest. We are especially pleased that Laima Kėrienė, an artistjeweller and professor at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, agreed to once again head the commission.
We will also have the Author Jewellery Zone. For the fourth time, the Author Jewellery Zone, which is specifically designed for jewellers, will bring together more than a fifth of participants from various countries, not only from Lithuania. It is like a separate exhibition presenting unique works of art and providing guests with a wonderful opportunity to talk to jewellers about their creative directions or to buy articles of jewellery that they like.
There will definitely be pleasant surprises in the exhibition, and we hope that visitors will appreciate them.
LET US BRIEFLY RETURN TO THE SITUATION IN THE MARKET. HOW DID THE PANDEMIC AFFECT THE AMBER BUSINESS?
It is no secret that the jewellery and amber industry was affected by the pandemic and the severe restrictions. Some market participants were severely affected by the pandemic, while others less so, and some of them have adapted to it.
Representatives of the sector working with visitors coming to Lithuania were hit particularly hard. And this was no exception, since imposed restrictions have also severely affected representatives of other countries who receive their income from the flow of tourists. Jewellers were far less affected by the hardships caused by the pandemic. Of course, there was a slight drop in revenue, but there were also those who flourished, since, for example, they attracted more customers through social networks and other means. But there is something to be happy about – during the pandemic, everyone cleared out (sold off) their inventories of unsold works, even though they did not bother to do so before.
Raw materials are becoming more expensive all over the world, and amber is no exception?
As the prices of natural resources rise, so does the price of amber stone. In 2022, compared to the first year of the pandemic, the price of raw amber imported from the Kaliningrad Amber Factory has increased by 20 percent. The price of raw amber is shooting up, even though there is still not much activity among buyers. This is strange, since we have not seen this before.
We still hope that Ukraine will finally issue licenses to trade in amber. Although Ukrainian amber is different from that which is mined in Russia, it is also in demand in the market.