‘There is no show in the market quite like CARAT+’: A one-on-one interview with the event director
Managing the CARAT+ operation is Filip Van Laere, a marketing specialist with 30 years’ worth of experience, of which the past 15 have been spent exclusively in the diamond and diamond jewellery business, both in Belgium and internationally. In a one-on-one interview, he explains the CARAT+ concept and the factors that provide it with special status in the jewellery trade show arena.
CARAT+ bills itself as “the world’s premier diamond event.” How could you make such a claim for a trade show in its first edition?
FILIP VAN LAERE: "When it opens in May, CARAT+ will be the only international trade fair worldwide focusing exclusively on diamonds, diamond jewellery and related services, which features leading exhibitors from all the major centres. The need for such an event is obvious. Diamonds make up the most important category in the business, with diamond-set pieces accounting for almost half of all jewellery sales in terms of volume, and the diamond itself being far and away the most valuable product component. But historically, when comes to trade shows the diamond category has been grossly under-catered to. CARAT+ was created specifically to rectify the situation, and to present professional buyers – be they diamond wholesalers or jewellery retailers – with an array of merchandise, companies and services."
What do you mean by a diamond-specific show? How will CARAT+ be organized in terms of exhibitors?
"Our objective is that we provide a full selection of buying opportunities for loose diamond wholesalers from around the world, and for diamond jewellery retailers, mainly from Europe. For the first edition of the show, we are planning an exclusive offering exhibitors, with about half displaying loose diamonds, about half displaying branded and non-branded jewellery, and the remainder diamond-related services such as gem labs. They will represent leading companies from around the world."
Why did you select the time slot of early May for CARAT+?
"Strategically it’s an excellent time slot. It comes well into the new year, meaning that companies already have a good feel for the market, and they have begun planning ahead for the end of the year selling season. In terms of our two target groups of visitors, for diamond wholesalers it is a key period to replenish stock, and for jewellery retailers it good time to prepare collections so that they are ready roll immediately in September, after the summer vacation. We looked for dates that were comfortably between the big industry shows in Basel and Las Vegas. CARAT+ will take place almost midway between the two. It will not clash with either."
How important is the fact that CARAT+ is taking place in Antwerp?
"Antwerp provides a degree of added value that other cities cannot. We are talking about the world’s preeminent diamond centre, which handles upward of 80 percent of the merchandise seen by the market each year. There are practically no types, qualities or quantities of diamonds that cannot be supplied during the duration of the show. It’s as simple as that. But selection is not all. Antwerp’s geographic location is an important factor as well. For international buyers, we lie midway between Asia and the Americas. Furthermore, the city’s position in the north-west of Europe puts it in close physical proximity to the most important diamond jewellery markets in the region."
How much a challenge is it launching a new trade show in the diamond and diamond jewellery sector?
"It obviously is a challenge, but any difficulties we encounter are mitigated by the fact that we are serving such an important group of exhibitors and buyers that are looking for a show of their own. CARAT+ was not launched on a whim, but rather after a good deal of visitor research. Our goal is clear. Within three years CARAT+ will be considered the reference platform in the industry for all products and services related to diamonds."