"The quality of the buyers at this Expo was great—they’re here to do business, not just to look. They’re here to buy," reported exhibitors Robert and Sophie Berzofsky of RHB Enterprises in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Total attendance for the three days was nearly 3,000 unique buyers, many of whom came back over multiple days.
Produced by MJSA, the association dedicated to professional excellence in jewelry making and design, Expo New York is the largest and oldest trade show devoted to the interests and needs of the nation’s jewelry makers and designers—whether they’re working at a retail store, designing in a studio, providing contract services, or are involved in large-scale manufacturing.
"MJSA Expo benefits us immensely, as it gives us the opportunity to offer many demos to those seeking jewelry-making tools, supplies, and machinery," said Scott A. Petrillo, vice president of sales for Gesswein Co. in Bridgeport, Connecticut. "The show brings together attendees ranging from the manufacturer to the artisan, and they get to experience a first-hand look at the latest technology and services out on the market."
The explosion of consumer interest in custom-designed jewelry drew many retailers to the show, and many exhibitors were happy to welcome them. "This was our initial plunge into the retailer market, and we’ve had a tremendous response," said Eli Borochoff of Art-TEC Jewelry Designs Ltd. in New York City, which specializes in precision machine-set ring technology with a high-tech online interface that allows jewelers to customize ring designs. "We did exceptionally well...We certainly will repeat [as an exhibitor] next year."
In perhaps a sign of an improving economy, jewelry makers were also in the market for major equipment purchases, reported exhibitors. "Expo was very, very busy for us," said Gail Farias, communications director at LaserStar Technologies Corp. in Riverside, Rhode Island. "Many buyers did research online before they visited, so they knew a lot about our product already." Farias noted the most popular items for her company were its marking and engraving products and its iWeld laser systems.
Compliments were going both ways on the show floor. "The vendors at Expo are different from at other shows. You’re not just another person who’s walking by their booth," observed Tom McLaughlin of Lennon’s Jewelers in Clay, New York. "They were all concerned about what I wanted, and answered all my questions—they were genuinely interested in helping me out. It’s why I come back to Expo."
Attendees also flocked to Expo’s seminars, which ran throughout the three-day show. "The speakers were great, as well as all the different topics. A particular favorite for me was designer Chi Huynh of Galatea, who spoke about tapping into your creativity in designing jewelry," says McLaughlin.
Huynh’s presentation, on the last day of the show, was complemented by "It Takes Two Tuesday," where attendees could schedule free 20-minute, one-on-one consultations with experts such as Andrea Hill of StrategyWerx, Cindy Edelstein of the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau, Eugene Brill of Rio Grande, and several others. Hill also presented two popular "Success Strategies" seminars on Sunday and Monday, on creating a business plan and branding, and Brill moderated a panel on digital marketing, which also included experts Cathy Gins of Aromawear and Wendy Culpepper of Spice Marketing.
Other panel discussions focused on colored gemstone and bead trends, the ins and outs of subcontracting jewelry work, and working with alternative metals and other new materials. Ann Cahoon (right) of Flying Marquis Studios presented two At the Bench Live sessions where she challenged common bench traditions, and explained different ways of working.
"The seminars were extremely helpful and I loved every one that I attended—and I only missed one!" says retailer Donna Wasilewski of The Seventh Stone in Coxsackie, New York. "I also thought the bench presentations by Ann Cahoon were wonderful and I attended both. I had a great time and really learned a lot of valuable information. Expo was very worth my time."
Exhibitors and attendees at Expo also got a chance to mingle and relax off the show floor. On Monday evening, the Expo cocktail party took place at the New York Athletic Club, where conversation flowed, the hor d’oeuvres were hot, and the cocktails were cold. "It was great to be able to relax, make connections, and thank everyone who made Expo such a success," said MJSA President and CEO David W. Cochran. Many partygoers then traveled down to New York’s fashionable Soho area for another party held by MJSA member Johnson Matthey, to celebrate its Sustainable Design Awards for new talent in platinum design (MJSA was a sponsor of the competition).
Retailer Tom McLaughlin probably summed it up best: "The show, the seminars, the vendors—Expo creates a great community atmosphere for people who do what I like to do, make jewelry! And all the resources MJSA offers are essential to my work. I loved being there."
For more information about MJSA Expo New York, click here, or call 1-800-444-MJSA (6572).