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EXCLUSIVE Q & A WITH MR. JOCHEN MÜLLER

Jochen Müller, President of the German Diamond and Gemstone Exchange and Head of the Steering Committee of the prestigious international trade show Intergem e.V. 

By Chris Colemont

COLLECTION-58---Intergem-Jochen Müller-www.collection-magazine.comMr. Jochen Müller, a third-generation diamantaire, serves the Diamant- und Edelsteinbörse Idar-Oberstein e.V. (the Diamond and Gemstones Exchange Idar-Oberstein) (DEIO) as its president since 2003. Since 1995, Mr. Jochen Müller has headed the Steering Committee of the prestigious international trade show Intergem e.V.  For business, he is with the house of Herbert Giloy & Söhne GmbH & Co. KG.

Always ‘an active player’, be not surprised to meet this leading personality of the Idar-Oberstein diamond and precious stones world, on… the greens at the Golf-Club Edelstein Hunsrück !  Another gem in this colourful region. 

The 29th Intergem has just closed its doors. Did this edition meet your expectations?

Intergem is a small fair with 140 exhibitors, presenting specialties in a wide range of gemstones. Buyers find types and colors they will not find elsewhere. As most exhibitors are working on a high-quality-level, the number of visitors will never soar to the ceiling, but there are always the matching customers. So far, it met the expectations with a stable number of visitors, national and international.

The fair opened on Thursday and lasted 4 days, not 3 days as in previous years.  Would you say that the decision to include ‘Feiertag’, Thursday 3 Oct., turned out to be beneficial for both trade visitors and exhibitors?

This might be a misunderstanding. The fair always lasts 4 days, but this time we included the national holiday of October 3rd as it fell on a Thursday. It made the decision of retailers easier to come along either on Thursday or on the weekend. Next year we will start on Friday again.

The number of local exhibitors seems to be slightly declining.  On the other hand more overseas manufacturers and merchants travel to Idar-Oberstein to display their products.  How does the Intergem guarantee  its visitors to offer the high quality of goods that it is famous  for so that confidence in the integrity of the goods remains given the competition of internet-based business,  for ex.

Some changes with locals may occur because of successors missing, but this is nothing new in companies’ history. On the other hand there are young designers, goldsmiths, cutters coming in. Indeed we are looking for new exhibitors matching our quality level. This is the core issue for Intergem and a challenge. We are looking at every potential exhibitor, asking questions to him and using colleagues’ information. As our business is international, we are open-minded for colleagues from overseas, meaning for visitors that they may find new goods and varieties. That brings them more likely to return more often. The history of gemstones in the region of Idar-Oberstein, embracing more than five hundred years, means a handling and understanding beyond stone-quality-price-ratios. Maybe that customers get a feeling for that message.  And you have to hold the stone in your hand: move it, look at its colors and brilliance, feel the extraordinary polished surface. This you will never do in the web.

What were, in your opinion, some of the highlights at this Intergem fair? 

What is done to promote those items?

There was a wonderful mandarin garnet of about 100 cts, an outstanding Paraiba tourmaline of 17 cts as well as very intense colors in African tourmaline. The companies are promoting their highlights in cooperation with the fair management as press releases or even as a kind of event during the fair.

Some exhibitors reported that clients are prepared to pay more for the products on the top end of the market.   Is this a trend in today’s market? Should a purchase be considered a good investment?

We are witnessing a development heading for both high-end stones for (commercial) jewelry and high-end design, individual cuts, sculpturing. The more every day’s life is globalizing, the more some people are looking for outstanding design, materials and are willing to pay more for the individual value. First the gemstone or the jewelry should be a question of beauty and emotion. Of course, extraordinary things will keep an ‘eternal’ value, but it should not be considered as an investment only.

The intergem is famous for the business and trade of a great variety and wide range of coloured gemstones.  Do you notice trends in varieties of gems, or colours more in fashion this fall and winter?

As the Idar business is international, there is a broad variety of colors in favour all over the world. In Germany and Europe we see that colors in general are in favour again, also some mixed colors we did not have ten or fifteen years ago or we would not have accepted in that mix. Customers have fun to combine colors, and the suppliers present their creativity.

One should not forget that diamonds have been cut and traded in Idar-Oberstein since many generations.  That is not a recent activity, as you can witness.  Can you compare the demand or business in diamonds with the demand or business for the other gemstones?  Do they complete each other or remain separate segments in the market, each with its own particularities?

The diamond business in Idar-Oberstein dates back to 1886. Today, there are some specialists in the market, producing and dealing special cuts and qualities.

The diamond business is still different from the colored stone business. They complete each other in jewelry, but up to that stage they remain separate segments. 

Do you see an evolution in the field of designer jewellery ? 

On my opinion designer jewellery is far less a niche product than, let’s say, twenty years ago. More younger people –not only from Germany- are completing their studies on gemstone and jewellery design at our university of applied sciences in Idar-Oberstein. They are mostly working in small business units, but some of them are also successful in the field of design in companies producing accessories.

Last but not least, besides the conventional business, the Intergem has an exciting programme to attract and entertain trade visitors.  Many register for the GZ- Intergem Golf Cup or take advantage of the professional lectures. 

Can you give us a taste of what to expect for next year’s edition, the 30th anniversary of the Intergem ?    A “precious” event to look forward to…

To be honest – we don’t know yet. But be sure – it will be some special event. We always try to not present a gala evening, well known all over the world. We will have some brainstorming to come to a result that is adequate to the 30th Intergem. 

Many sincere and profound thanks, Mr. Müller, for your kind attention and precious time – highly appreciated on behalf of the COLLECTION readers.

Wishing you and the Intergem a very successful season.

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