Inhorgenta celebrates its 50 years in style

April 2024

Inhorgenta celebrates its 50 years in style

This year the annual Inhorgenta fair hosted its fiftieth edition in Munich. Launched in 1974 as the “first International Trade Fair for Watches, Jewellery, Gemstones and Silverware”, the event has weathered the decades (and a few storms). We interviewed Inhorgenta’s Exhibition Director Stefanie Mändlein.


he inaugural edition of Inhorgenta in 1974 welcomed 242 exhibitors from 19 countries and 5,550 visitors from 28 nations. In 2001 these numbers had risen to more than 1,440 exhibitors from 43 countries while footfall increased to 30,000 visitors from 62 countries [source: Europa Star archives].

This year 870 exhibitors from 37 countries were seen by over 25,000 visitors from more than 90 countries, confirming the fair’s positioning as a leading European platform for jewellery, watches and gemstones.

Inhorgenta celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024 (Europa Star archive).
Inhorgenta celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024 (Europa Star archive).

We met Inhorgenta’s Exhibition Director Stefanie Mändlein to discuss this milestone, past successes and what lies ahead.

Europa Star: You took the reins at Inhorgenta in 2015. What would you say is the fair’s greatest strength and the reason it is still going strong after 50 years, when many similar events have disappeared?

Stefanie Mändlein: Inhorgenta has existed since 1974. One of its key characteristics is that it brings the entire value chain together under one roof, with watch brands, fine jewellery and fashion jewellery, gemstone and diamond traders, even technology and distribution. It has always been a showcase for excellence within the industry as a whole, while its European and international dimension meets a need other fairs don’t.

One important stage in the fair’s development was the relocation in 1999 to the site of the former Riem airport [Messe München West] and the new dimension that came with this. You can come to Inhorgenta and see celebrities such as Udo Jürgens, Nadja Auermann and Sir Peter Ustinov, yet there is this almost family atmosphere, and I think this has contributed to the fair’s reputation and success. It’s something our exhibitors and visitors appreciate.

Stefanie Mändlein, Inhorgenta's Exhibition Director
Stefanie Mändlein, Inhorgenta’s Exhibition Director

There were a lot of changes for the 50th anniversary and you’ve redefined the concept.

We introduced numerous new features for 2024. First off, we redesigned layouts. There was also a full programme of experiences as well as daily panel discussions with more than 50 speakers. We introduced a new catering concept, too. More than 500 guests attended the Inhorgenta Awards ceremony and gala dinner at the Showpalast, which is one of Europe’s largest venues. This year we presented awards in new categories, including Luxury Watch of the Year. It’s a whole new show!

What are your objectives going forward?

We want to continue to expand into the higher end of the market and extend the fair’s international reach. The fact that more than 80 journalists attended the opening press conference proves there is considerable interest in this development. The live signing of our partnership with India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council for 2025 is further illustration of this commitment. We want to accelerate our development. Another of our objectives is to incorporate sustainability more widely into the Inhorgenta concept.

This year we welcomed 870 exhibitors, which is a 9% rise on 2023. Half of these were international. Over 25,000 visitors attended from more than 90 countries, with major delegations from the Czech Republic, Slovakia as well as China. Inhorgenta’s reputation is growing worldwide.

Inhorgenta celebrates its 50 years in style

Has visitor profile changed in recent years? Also, are there plans to give more space to watches?

We now have six diversified segments: jewellery, timepieces, fashion jewellery, gemstones, silver jewellery and technology [covering packaging, shopfitting and software]. The halls were restructured along these lines. The first two segments are the largest and we are seeing positive evolution in these segments.

Switzerland’s Salon Suisse, which debuted in 2020, went from six to 12 brands. The French pavilion was also bigger this year. This confirms that Inhorgenta is an ideal fit for an entire segment of the watch market. Of course, there is potential for growth across all the segments. Our Wedding and Design area [bridal jewellery and engagement rings] is expanding and the experiences on offer proved hugely popular, such as floral arrangement classes and make-up demonstrations. In fact all the experiences proposed, particularly distribution concepts, were an immense success.

Stefan Rummel (Messe München), Nirav Bhansali (Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council India) and Stefanie Mändlein (Inhorgenta)
Stefan Rummel (Messe München), Nirav Bhansali (Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council India) and Stefanie Mändlein (Inhorgenta)

Inhorgenta is trade only. Are there plans to open to the public, as other events have done?

It’s certainly something we’re considering, but we already had a lot of new developments to focus on this year. There has to be a concept that matches the event and meets our partners’ needs. We are discussing the possibility with our partners and there is definite interest but there would also be impacts which have to be taken into account.

One final question. As business relations become increasingly digital, is there still room for in-person fairs such as Inhorgenta?

More than ever! We see this every day. Take the Inhorgenta Awards, for example. The judges absolutely want to see and touch the pieces. Our industry is all about emotion and digital cannot replace that. Obviously digital cuts down the need for business travel and means you can get in touch with someone quickly, but it can never take the place of human relations, which are an important part of business, too. Remember when Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and how delighted everyone was to be able to meet in person again.

I’m convinced that we enjoy stronger, better quality exchanges face-to-face. Sharing experiences encourages creativity and collaboration. We develop better that way. Social media and e-commerce have been popular with the public for a long time but an Inhorgenta Trend Index 2024 survey indicates that the future of watch and jewellery distribution is increasingly personal and individual. Which makes us even more convinced we have a role to play.

Inhorgenta celebrates its 50 years in style

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