Exhibitors laud "high-quality buyers" at MJSA's flagship trade show
MJSA Expo returned last month to the Javits Center in New York City, where scores of manufacturers, designers, bench jewelers, and custom retailers got the chance to connect with the latest in jewelry making and design. For three days (March 5–7) buyers roamed the aisles in the Javits' River Pavilion, a prime venue where 45-foot-high glass windows allowed the sun to pour down upon booth after booth of jewelry-making tools, equipment, supplies, and services. Attendees swarmed around welders, casters, and CAD/CAM systems, tested precision bench tools, and discovered supplies and materials that could open new creative possibilities and help their businesses grow.
For many Expo buyers, these connections—to new equipment and supplies, to needed expertise, to colleagues and old friends—keep them coming back year after year. They also come to keep them current on the latest trends, and the top trend this year is undoubtedly permanent jewelry. It seems that jewelry buyers of all ages keep lining up to have chains permanently fused around their wrists, ankles, and necks as a sign of commitment and caring.
Not surprisingly, Expo vendors who carry the pulse-arc welders that fuse those chains reported strong interest in them. ("It's been one of the busiest spots in our booth," said Chris Leonard, director of tools at Stuller Inc. in Lafayette, Louisiana.)
Which is why, for buyers who wanted to learn even more about how to capitalize on the phenomenon, MJSA reserved an area of the show floor for a special Permanent Jewelry Showcase. There, buyers could view demos of different types of pulse-arc welders, see a selection of chain styles, and engage in roundtable discussions with two jewelers who have already had extensive experience with the trend: Melissa Muir, a Draper, Utah–based jeweler/educator who has written and taught extensively about permanent jewelry, especially the technical aspects; and Lee Krombholz, the president of Krombholz Jewelers in Cincinnati, who has seen permanent jewelry become the third-highest-grossing profit category in his store.
"It was very informative and inspirational," said Rachel Bertoni, the owner and in-house designer of Bertoni Gallery in Warwick, New York. She said that she and her assistant, Samantha Stefanik, had been eyeing the permanent jewelry trend and appreciated the chance to learn more first-hand—"the presenters were very giving."
Robert Sepiashvili demonstrating a pulse-arc welder offered by Gesswein.
For exhibitors, the Expo connections they rely on may be primarily to customers, but they too find the show benefits them beyond just sales and leads. Sarah Loveland, vice president of administration at TechForm Advanced Casting Technology in Portland, Oregon, appreciated not only the buyer traffic—"I've talked to a lot of high-quality leads, that's what is standing out about this show," she noted—but also the chance to visit other vendors.
"We're always looking at 3-D printing technology," she said. "That's been exciting for us as a vendor—to not only talk to prospective customers, but also have an opportunity to look at the new technologies that we might be interested in adopting."
For Simon Watt, who with his wife, Laurie, owns the Maysville, Kentucky–based gem dealer Mayer and Watt, MJSA Expo brings another benefit: networking.
The Expo, he says, is "the most important show in the country to look for tools and equipment, so some of the movers and shakers in the industry come just for [that]. And lo and behold, we get to spend some time talking to these people with whom we would never normally spend time."
In an industry in which relationships matter so much, such connections—whether to colleagues, to vendors, to equipment and supplies, or to needed expertise—can be invaluable.
The 2024 show dates for MJSA Expo will be announced soon. For updates, go to MJSAExpo.org.
Simon and Laurie Watt