Since its inception in 2001, the Xiamen International Stone Fair has exploded. Geared for stone industry professionals worldwide, the scope of the international exhibition has drastically changed from its beginning days. Halls to house the growing list of exhibitors, which in 2019 totaled 2,000, continue to be built on the fairgrounds and the exhibition area currently encompasses 180,000 square meters. This year’s edition was held from March 6th to 9th, and saw 208,000 visitors pass through its doors.

As a result of its expansion, the Xiamen Stone Fair now includes 25 exhibition halls, and this year there was a 13.1% rise in the number of new exhibitors. In addition to domestic companies, exhibitors came from 57 different countries and regions, and attendees were from a total of 147 countries and regions.

From the onset of the four-day show, the aisles of every exhibition hall, as well as the outdoor area, were bustling. Brazilian stone producers had a strong presence. There were numerous stone displays of stunning exotic material. Many stone companies had new introductions to offer attendees. Guidoni was promoting its first owned marble quarry, which it has entitled the “Imperiale Collection.” “We want to diversify our portfolio and expand from granite,” explained Verônica Petrópolis, Guidoni marketing manager. “We want to take to the market what they want, not what we have.”

MagBan, also a Brazilian stone producer, introduced Kalahari quartzite from its new quarry. “We have good expectations for this in the U.S. market,” said Gonsalo Pena Macado.

Pokarna was also showcasing material from its new quarry, Silver Cloud. The beautiful material is extracted from its own site in India.

Another company that caught the attention of those passing by with its impressive booth showcasing intricately detailed limestone carvings was GLS Stone, which is based in France. The company exhibits highly skilled craftsmanship in its work that includes high residential projects and even palaces. “We’re trying to bring more of a personal touch into this,” said Greg Kimball of GLS Stone. “You can get stone anywhere. I think we have something that stands out.”

When speaking in general about the exhibition, Kimball had positive comments. “I can honestly say from my perspective as both exhibitor and attendee, having been in the industry for 26 years and been to several shows around the globe, the Xiamen Stone Fair was probably the most impressive in light of the size of the overall show and the amount of exhibitors in the halls,” he said. “There was so much movement and energy there that it gave me a refreshing perspective to the amount of global commerce that takes place in our industry. Coming home, I bring that perspective into our business and have never been so charged to move forward. Definitely worth the trip and looking forward to showing next year also.”

Show features

“Stone Infinite – Product Design Show” was among the prominent attractions on the show floor, which spanned 2,000 square meters.  Show management described the feature as “a hub of marketable ideas – bringing infinite possibilities of using natural stone.” There were a total of 23 exhibitions on display that were chosen among a pool of applicants. Criteria included for the display to illustrate a story or lifestyle with natural stone, show stone’s marketability and demonstrate future technology. Those participating in the exhibit were from China, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Sweden and the U.S.

Another returning highlight was “Launch Out @XSF.” The objective of this show feature was to assist visitors in sourcing targeted products among the seemingly endless exhibits at the Xiamen Stone Fair. Hall C3b has become the exhibition hall designated for new products. Exhibitors in this area not only displayed their product at their own booths, but also presented their products at a releasing conference. According to show management, the exhibition space of Hall C3b increased by more than 20% for the 2019 edition of the fair. There were 38 participating companies and 48 product displays.

Educational component

Keeping in line with its continual growth, show management added an educational program to the Xiamen Stone Fair in 2009, featuring a selection of seminars from leading stone experts. Leading stone industry associations such as China Stone Material Association and China Chamber of Commerce for Stone Industry have contributed content from the start, and in recent years the Natural Stone Institute has secured a presence at the event. In fact, the U.S.-based association brings a large delegation to the show each year, and some of the participants give presentations, as well as Jim Hieb, CAE, who is CEO of the Natural Stone Institute.

The 2019 edition of the World Stone Congress, as the program is named, featured 53 topics. In total there were 56 speakers from 15 different countries who participated.

On the first day of the show, a press conference was held, which was entitled “Squash the Rumors of Radiation in Stone.” With misled information by some test results and inexact public opinions, there have been rumors that natural stone products contain radiation or radon that harms human’s health. In order to eliminate the misconception, China Stone Material Association (CSMA) and the organizing committee of China Xiamen International Stone Fair (Xiamen Stone Fair) co-hosted a press conference to address it. Industry organizations from domestic and abroad, main chambers of commerce in China, quality testing institutions, media and stone practitioners were invited to attend.

Deng Huiqing, vice secretary-general of CSMA, delivered an opening speech and declared the main purpose of the press conference – mobilizing social and industrial forces to squash the rumor of radiation in stone. Supported by experts in radiation field and relevant national departments, CSMA has corrected inaccuracy in national standard and institutional aspect respectively; yet, the impact of radiation in stone has been spread among consumers. Thus, as keynote speakers, four authoritative experts expressed their opinions. They were Zhu Li, professor in Tsinghua University and well-known expert in the radiation field in China; Zhou Junxing, deputy director of National Stone Quality Supervision and Inspection Center and vice secretary-general of National Technical Committee for Stone Standardization; Jim Hieb, CEO of the Natural Stone Institute; and  Ali Sayacki, current president of the World Natural Stone Association (WONASA).

Hieb told the crowd that some granite countertop competitors and radon testing companies try to spread erroneous information as facts for financial gain, which becomes a major reason for the spread of the rumor. “There are many sources of radiation in a typical home,” he said. “Yet the fact is, radiation and radon levels from other sources in the home are far more significant than what may be measured from a granite countertop. The tiny amount of radon which might emit from a kitchen countertop has virtually no impact on the total contribution to indoor air, as well as the harm to human’s health.”

New plans for 2020

Next year, the Xiamen International Stone Fair will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In light of this big milestone, show management is launching a campaign called “Discover a New Decade.” As plans unfold, Stone World will be sure to report them.

Also note that dates have changed for the 2020 edition. The Xiamen International Stone Fair is slated for March 16th to 19th.