More than 3,000 jewelry makers and designers streamed through the doors of the 2013 MJSA Expo New York, March 10-12 at the Hilton New York. And, with many of them, their wallets were open.
“I met a potential customer from Florida, I placed an order for a rapid prototyping machine, and I shook hands with at least 40 from the best of the jewelry industry. Where can you do this except at MJSA Expo?” said show attendee Ted Doudak, CEO at Riva Precision Manufacturing Inc. in the New York City area.
“There was lots of new machinery at the show. I saw three new rapid prototyping systems on display that looked good and in an excellent price range. This is a show well worth going to every year," said attendee Daniel Grandi, president and owner at RaceCar Jewelry Co. Inc. in the Providence, Rhode Island, area.
Exhibitors echoed the enthusiasm of buyers.
The 2013 MJSA Expo “was the best I have seen in five or so years,” said Darrell Warren, vice president merchandising at Stuller Inc. “There were also more qualified buyers at the show than I have seen in as many years. My congratulations to all of the MJSA organization on a job well done.”
“This is my first year at Expo New York, and I’ve really been impressed,” said Robert Knupfer of New York City-based Knupfer International Gems, Inc., and the website BuySellMemo.com. “I’ve made great contacts with buyers, not only in the New York area, but also from places like Minnesota, North Carolina, and Ohio.”
Produced by MJSA, the association for jewelry makers, designers, and related suppliers, Expo New York takes place annually in March at the Hilton New York in midtown Manhattan, a convenient location for buyers. The show features not only the latest bench tools, laser welders, casting machines, alloys, CAD/CAM systems, gemstones, and component parts, but also subcontracting and business services related to jewelry making and design.
The association also hosts a variety of seminars and classes at the event. “The seminars were just terrific,” said Expo attendee Eric Toczko of CustomMade.com, an online consumer marketplace for custom services, including those for jewelry. “I learned so much about the jewelry industry, and it was great to meet the thought leaders within it.”
The program this year included a return of the popular “Critique My Website, Please” seminar, in which Rio Grande marketing manager Eugene Brill updated attendees on the crucial elements of a good online strategy. (He critiqued attendee websites via a live Internet connection.) Attendees also learned how to best integrate technology into their operations, thanks to a session conducted by J. Tyler Teague, a consultant to the trade and owner of JETT Research and Precious Metal Casting Consultants in Johnson City, Tennessee. In addition, trend forecaster Barbara Raleigh, president of International Design Source Ltd. in the New York City area, offered an overview of the latest fashion trends and how to apply them to jewelry in all price ranges.
Expo also presented MJSA’s signature At the Bench Live (right). In this year’s session, Arthur Skuratowicz, director of education at the Jewelry Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, shared favorite tools and tricks of the trade, many gleaned from the MJSA Press book Secret Shop Weapons.
The next day, Skuratowicz and Teague took part in a panel discussion moderated by business consultant Andrea Hill of StrategyWerx. Called “Generation Next: The Future of Jewelry Making & Design,” it examined how the next generation of jewelry makers and designers are being prepared with both the basic skills and the technological savvy needed for the 21st century. Patricia Madeja, jewelry coordinator at the Pratt Institute of Fine Arts in Brooklyn, also participated.
Monday afternoon, MJSA offered a fee-based series called “Jewelry 101: The Foundation of Quality Work.” Sponsored by the MJSA Education Foundation, the courses taught basic jewelry making skills, such as bezel and prong setting, engraving, and wax carving. Expert instructors included Joel McFadden of Joel McFadden Designs in Red Bank, New Jersey; and Tira Mitchell of Tira Mitchell Custom Engraving in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
Jewelry 101 was a particularly popular choice for attendees:
“Thank you, MJSA, for sponsoring Jewelry 101!” said Blanca Schusterman of Jewelry by Blanca, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “Joel is an experienced and successful jeweler/artisan who was very generous with his expertise while engaging his audience throughout his sessions. His materials were well organized; he was direct and to the point, made sure all of our questions were answered, and has a great sense of humor! I look forward to the next MJSA conference.”
“I thought the Jewelry 101 sessions were fantastic—I’m chomping at the bit to go back, they were that good,” said Beth Jessup, owner of Colorful Creations L.L.C. in Laytonsville, Maryland, a studio specializing in handcrafted jewelry, accessories, and photography. “I’ve been poring through the handouts, especially those about engraving, and I’m already making my own tools the way they showed me—it’s excellent!”
On Tuesday, March 12, MJSA Expo New York once again hosted the finale of the Future of Design Contest. Developed by the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau and StrategyWerx, the contest allows three finalists to deliver 10-minute presentations before a live Expo audience and the Future of Design judges, after which they field questions from both groups. The Future of Design evaluates jewelry designers’ business strategy skills, as well as their design talent. G & G Creations of Boston was voted the winner this year, and the company will receive a prize package of business services and promotional opportunities worth $250,000. Pictured at right are (from left) partners Mihran Guler, Esin Guler, and Vahé Ghararian, along with MJSA President/CEO David Cochran.
For more information about exhibiting or attending MJSA Expo New York for 2014, click here, or call 1-800-444-MJSA (6572). March 2014 dates will be announced shortly.