Italy no longer top gold exporter due to crisis

Italy has lost its position as the world’s premier gold jewellery exporter, overtaken by India and the United States, and risks slipping further due to its high cost base and tariff barriers.

For years Italy was the world’s biggest manufacturer and exporter of mass-produced and crafted gold jewellery. Bulgari, Damiani and Roberto Coin are Italian luxury brands celebrated worldwide for their opulent use of gold and precious gemstones and cutting-edge designs.

But the Italian goldsmith sector is fighting an uphill battle against punitive import duties imposed by markets such as China, and competition from lower cost producers benefiting from improving design skills and the latest technology. Soaring prices of gold and high salaries, have inflated Italian jewellery manufacturers’ costs. Domestic gold jewellery sales have slumped due to the recession in Italy and the soaring price of gold, which hit a record price in euro terms last month. Sales of gold jewellery in Italy were down 15 percent in volume terms (to 4.8 tonnes) and fell 9 percent in value terms ($246 million) year on year in the second quarter, figures from the World Gold Council showed.

“The foreign markets which are growing fast and where our group sees great possibilities are: Greater China, where Damiani is already present with eight boutiques and will soon open another five, and the former Soviet republics where a new boutique will open soon in Moscow,” said Guido Damiani, president and CEO of Damiani. He said a store in St. Petersburg would follow.

Mumbai-based Gitanjali, one of the world’s largest diamond and jewellery manufacturer-retailers, acquired a handful of Italian luxury jewellery brands during the economic downturn, and now sells their pieces in strategic growth markets. Gitanjali has opened a store showcasing two of its upscale Italian brands, Stefan Hafner and Nouvelle Bague, in Dalian, China.

Damiani store, New Delhi, India