Opportunities Abound in Brazilian Gem & Jewelry Industry
ICA Congress attendees learn of current programs and long-range
strategies that will drive business in the future
A lot has changed in Brazil since the International Colored Gemstone Association held its first Biennial Congress in Belo Horizonte in 1997. Today, as the group meets in Rio de Janeiro, delegates learned about Brazil’s thriving trade from mine to market, which is expected to experience even more growth over the next two decades.
A full day of presentations by industry and government officials enlightened Congress attendees of just how much Brazil’s industry has expanded, as well as the current and long-range strategies that will drive business in the future. With a US$2 trillion Gross Domestic Product, Brazil ranks as the eighth largest economy in the world, sixth largest in purchasing power allowing it to be a key participant in the world economy.
Brazil’s jewelry sector represents 15,000 companies—12,000 of which are retailers, 2,150 manufacturing fashion/plated jewelry, 900 producing gold and silver designs, and 450 that cut and polish gems. Nearly three quarters of the industry is comprised of small and medium sizes companies. Sales for all gem and jewelry sectors in 2010 totaled US$6.5 billion ($2.8 billion of which was retail), with exports totaling US$2.2 billion, up from US$1.7 billion in 2009 (exporting four times more than it imports).
“Brazilian brands are being recognized worldwide for their unique design, sensibility and charisma,” describes Hécliton Santini Henriques, president of the Brazilian Jewellery and Gems Trade Association (IBGM). He sees Brazil’s opportunity between premium-priced couture and lower-cost classic jewelry.
In the past 20 years, IBGM has changed the benchmark for Brazilian design by raising awareness through such actions as design competitions, greater worldwide exhibition exposure, and partnerships with private and public entities to improve how the trade does business. In fact, technical schools like Senac College in Rio offer a growing list of courses from design and goldsmithing to lapidary and entrepreneurship.
As the fifth largest country in size, Brazil is well endowed with natural resources. Nine local productive clusters are in place in seven Brazilian states, helping to formalize small mining cooperatives, through programs with SEBRAE (Brazilian Service of Support for Micro and Small Enterprises).
In fact, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, according to its secretary of geology, mining and mineral processing, Claudio Scliar, has developed a 20-year plan focused on 11 strategic goals. Among them are expanding polices and programming to formalize and strengthen the position of small and medium mining companies to assist in attaining credit and investments and meeting environmental regulations; building supply chain infrastructure to increase Brazil’s added value on gems produced (developing local cutting); creating and fortifying policies and programs for ethically/environmentally friendly mined gems, especially as the industry looks to the Amazon area for greater production.
Marcelo Ribeiro, director of the Belmont Group, emerald production in Minas Gerais, cites that mining is getting much deeper and more difficult. He advocates the discovery of new mines through geological exploration, requiring investment in the sector.
According to Adriano Campos, investment promotions for Apex, the country’s trade and promotion agency, economic growth and government programs are helping lift many Brazilians out of poverty and fueling a sense of optimism. “Brazil's $1.3 trillion economy is bigger than those of India and Russia, and its per-capita income is nearly twice that of China,” he cites. “Economists and social scientists say the booming trade-oriented economy and innovative government programs are lifting millions from poverty and shaking what was once a certainty: that a person born poor in Brazil would surely die poor.”
A prime example of this can be seen in the efforts of FIRJAN (Federation of Industries of the State of Rio de Janeiro), working to create a positive environment for the industrial sector to promote new investments to Rio. The group’s goal this year is to train over 68,000 students, free of charge, in technical jobs to create an environment for industries to grow and communities to prosper.
FIRJAN is also promoting athlete programs for kids, literacy programs, senior activities, health care, refurbishing low-income neighborhoods and increasing police presence to diminish drug trafficking and violent crimes to uplift poverty-stricken areas. To assist in ongoing efforts, one of ICA’s major Congress sponsors, Lorenzo Jewelry, a gem-intense jewelry manufacturer based in Hong Kong, presented the agency with a generous check for $30,000.
Certainly, with the soccer World Cup coming to Brazil in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, the country wants to put its best foot forward, creating an impetus for rapid growth in the coming months.
Additional presentations highlighted the innovative and distinctive work of jewelers like H.Stern and designers such as Antonio Bernardo, who bring to life unique jewelry products that celebrate Brazilian gemstones, as we as ingenuity. Such creativity will be promoted in a new marketing campaign organized by IBGM in partnership with the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, which will be launched at the Couture Show in Las Vegas this June.
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ICA Executive Director