MJSA Expo, the industry’s longest-running trade show dedicated to all aspects of jewelry manufacturing and design, returned March 20 – 22 to the Javits Center in New York City – and buyers returned as well, with a pent-up desire to invest in new equipment, supplies, and services.
“They were hungry to see everything in person, that was the biggest defining factor of this year’s show,” says exhibitor Curt Heher, president/CEO of Rare Earth Mining Company. Heher says his company, which specializes in unusual gems and materials, had an “excellent” show – “we sold everything across the board” – and that buyers were excited to see their offerings.
“Online is important,” he adds, “but that person-to-person contact, to touch something, to make sure nothing is wrong, to hear a back story, you can’t beat it!”
Like so many other shows, Expo had been rescheduled and postponed during the pandemic. The wait created a pent-up demand, as attendees filled the aisles in a buying mood. They hefted and tested tools, examined components, pored over trays of gems, and asked detailed questions about production equipment and services. Exhibitors re-connected with old customers and welcomed new ones, and everyone reveled in the opportunity to once again meet in person.
Ted Doudak, president of Riva Precision, described it as “amazing” to see customers face to face, after so many months of Zoom meetings with clients. Many other exhibitors echoed that sentiment. They also noted that buyers seemed to be not just enthusiastic about spending more time face to face, but also eager to simply spend.
“It was awesome,” says Scott Peart, marketing manager for Sunstone Welders, a supplier of pulse-arc and laser welders. “I had my sales guy with me, and he was really happy with the leads he got…. I think people are more confident with spending money.”
Sourabh Lashkery, co-owner of gem dealer Gemorex International, also noticed a change in the buyers’ behavior. “The number of big orders was much better this time around,” he says. “We had a few sales from designers that were surprising in terms of volume. Usually they look and take samples, but this time they made the deal right then and there. The percentage of [buyers] who were ready ‘right now’ was skewed in a positive way.”
Scott Petrillo, vice president of jewelry sales for Gesswein, also said customers seemed “ready to buy,” adding that his company had kept in close touch with customers over the course of the pandemic. Such virtual communication during the days of confinement and distancing undoubtedly helped, and it served as a reminder how while the pandemic may have created a pent-up demand for live interaction, it also accelerated people’s comfort with and reliance on technology. This year, Expo took advantage of that comfort by offering a hybrid educational program combining the best of live interaction and online reach.
The program launched on the first day of the show with several MJSA Journal LIVE sessions that were not only presented in person at Expo, but also streamed through MJSA’s social media channels. Designed to bring the experts found in the pages of MJSA Journal to a live audience, the four sessions featured some of the brightest minds in the industry on a range of topics:
- In “Hire Logic: An Idea Generator for Finding, Choosing, and Retaining Workers,” Andrea Hill, president of industry consultancy StrategyWerx and the coordinator of all MJSA webinars, led a discussion about the industry’s staffing issues with Matthew Anderson, human resources director for industry supplier Rio Grande; Lisa Garris, vice president of human resources at the Gemological Institute of America; Kate Peterson, president/CEO of consulting firm Performance Concepts; and Adrianne Sanogo, a GIA Graduate Gemologist and the education chair of the Black in Jewelry Coalition.
- “Behind the Design: Getting Inspired When Your Muse is Tired” featured advice on how to overcome creative block (and just run a successful business) from acclaimed jewelry designers Whitney Boin, Michael Bondanza, Adel Chefridi, Suzy Landa, David Wegweiser, and Katrin Zimmerman.
- “Time to Recharge: 60 Ideas in 60 Minutes” presented a whirlwind round robin of business and technical ideas from Ann Arnold, chief strategy officer of the Buyer’s Intelligence Group; Michael Binnion, casting process development & new technology manager for Tiffany & Co.; Ann Cahoon, jewelry department head at North Bennet Street School; David Cochran, president/CEO of MJSA; Andrea Hill; Lee Krombholz, president of Krombholz Jewelers; Christina Miller, founder of Christina T. Miller Sustainable Jewelry Consulting; and Kate Peterson.
- “Industry Snapshot: Where We Are and What’s Ahead” offered an insightful look at industry trends, statistics, and emerging opportunities by Harold Dupuy, FGA, vice president of strategic analysis at Stuller Inc.
The next day, Andrea Hill set up a mini “show-floor studio” and hosted a series of one-on-one discussions that were again streamed live. Her guests included Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer of Richline Group, who discussed industry initiatives in social responsibility; jewelry expert and JCK contributor Amy Elliott, who detailed current consumer trends; and Teresa Fryé, owner of TechForm Advanced Casting, who presented her latest research into platinum and gold wear resistance.
All of the educational programs were recorded and can be seen in the Seminars section at MJSAExpo.org.
The dates for the 2023 MJSA Expo will be announced soon. For more information, contact MJSA at 800-444-MJSA (6572), email@example.com, or visit MJSA.org.