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Rome (Ign) - One of the most important events for the lovers of luxury goods. From 11 to 15 December, Dubai will host Watch & Jewellery, the most important trade fair for jewellery and gold in the Middle East. In the last edition 9000 visitors were able to admire the stands of over 430 businesses from 30 countries. Italy of course could not miss out on such an important event, and thanks to the organisation of the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) it will be present with two separate collective delegations: one of jewellery companies, in which 20 companies will take part, and one for jewellery production machinery, involving 15. The Italian jewellery industry, with its traditional excellence, is one of the most important in the world. In 2005 its turnover was almost €6bn (40% of which was accounted for by exports) - in the world. Italian industry transforms almost 500 tonnes of gold, a fifth of the fine gold placed on world markets annually and three-quarters of that in Europe (the figure drops slightly if we also consider recycled gold). According to the figures of the World Gold Council, Italian jewellery has been one of the most significant "growth industries" of the post-war period: in the last twenty years of the last century production increased more than fivefold. The production system is composed of around 1500 industries, plus thousands of craft workshops, bringing the total number of businesses up to 10,000, accounting for a total of 47,000 jobs. The domestic market - which absorbs 60% of production - is particularly vast (Italy leads the world in per capita purchases of jewellery), but also discerning and demanding. This is why many Italian companies are at the forefront from a technological point of view, also thanks to the high quality of the machinery for the industry. Exports in the first five months of 2006 were up by 8.9%, driven by significant increases in purchases in Latin America (+58%), and the three areas of Asia: the Middle East Asia +15%; Central Asia +27% and East Asia +16%. Figures for Europe were a little below the overall average, but exports to Poland, the Philippines, Turkey, Russia and China doubled. This increase is due to the growth in value (+14.1% compared to the same period the year before), while volume is slightly lower (-1%): a sign that the added value of processing provided by companies allows Italian products to be competitive without having to cut prices (in fact the average unit value of jewellery items sold abroad rose by 11.5%). This is a significant value because it indicates growing market power, based above all on quality-driven competitiveness. Italy has earned a leading place also in the offer of specialist machines. This is a significant result, especially if we think that up until the 1960s there were no specialised industries in the country. According to the latest Gold Report dedicated to machinery at the trade fair of Vicenza (www.vicenzafiera.it), the production system is composed of around 300 businesses, plus producers of parts and components; the trade Association is Afemo (www.afemo.it). The Italian supply of machinery satisfies at least 80% of international demand, by virtue of its recognised excellence and constant technological innovation over time, with growth in exports in 2005 of 3.5% (now also starting to involve Asian countries), which compensates for the weakness of the domestic market. The excellence of Italy in both the sectors is in fact due to a series of factors: the jewellery industry around Vicenza, for example, originates from the deep-rooted tradition of the Venetian Republic. In Milan, moreover, there are still streets bearing the name of historic goldsmiths' corporations. Today, most of the jewellery producers are situated in precise districts such as Vicenza, Arezzo, Valenza Po, Rome, Naples and Milan, where high production levels are guaranteed thanks to the presence of an efficient network of sub-contractors highly specialised in the processing of metals, design and the preparation of semifinished goods. Today, the exports of the two main districts - Vicenza and Arezzo - account for 70% of the total, while the others in any case continue to increase the value of products sold abroad (Milan +15% and Valenza Po +28.9%).

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