MJSA Expo 2020 Seminars Announced

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MJSA ExpoMJSA Expo, the longest-running trade show dedicated to professional jewelry making and design, has announced the seminar schedule for its 2020 show, which will run March 15-17 at the Javits Center in New York City (concurrently with JA New York).

Sponsored by MJSA, the U.S. trade alliance for professional jewelry makers, designers, and related suppliers, Expo annually features the latest jewelry-making tools, technologies, supplies, and services. It also offers a comprehensive two-day educational program focused on current industry issues, trends, and technical innovations. This year’s topics range from the FTC’s momentous decision to eliminate the longstanding karat gold threshold (which led to the recent launch of 1k gold) to emerging trends for 2020 and how jewelers can adjust to them.

The majority of seminars will take place in the Community Hall, located before the entrance to the show floor. In addition, the Main Stage (located at the rear of the show hall) will feature several special events. The MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers will host forums addressing two of the biggest challenges faced by custom jewelers: pricing and client communication. And MJSA’s signature At the Bench Live demos will return to Expo to coincide with the release of the new MJSA Press book, At the Bench Vol. 2: Tips, Techniques, and Step-by-Step Projects for Jewelers of All Skill Levels.

In addition, MJSA Expo will feature a new Smart Circle section on the show floor, with renowned industry experts and consultants available throughout the event to answer business questions. Consultants Andrea Hill, Marlene Richey, and Marylouise Sirignano Lugosch will provide insights into all aspects of running a business. Richey will also offer a "Critique My Line" session for designers; she’ll be joined on Monday by brand strategist/publicist/jewelry expert Helena Krodel. Matthew Perosi and George Blair of the Sapphire Collaborative will be on hand to offer their expertise in photography and digital media. Miya Owens of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee will answer legislative and regulatory questions.

The full schedule of seminars and demonstrations is presented below. For more information about MJSA Expo, visit MJSAExpo.org or call 1-800-444-MJSA (6572).


Sunday, March 15

Custom Jewelry Forum: At What Price?

10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Main Stage

Sponsored by the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers

There are many steps to the creation of a piece of custom jewelry, from an initial consultation to the final presentation to the client.  But one of the most challenging steps is pricing. You have to account for all of your related overhead expenses, from rent and utilities to often-under-calculated areas such as marketing and inventory replacement. You also have to settle on one of the most mysterious factors: How to charge for those "X" factors of your own creativity and the design’s "uniqueness." This open forum, led by the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers’ Gary Dawson (chair) and Joel McFadden (director), will uncover the ways that jewelers approach pricing, which you can then apply to your own business.


Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals through Jewelry

11 a.m. to noon, Community Hall

"I believe in sculpting beautiful fine jewelry created with purpose and love to further the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Goals," says Susan Wheeler, a Chicago-based jewelry designer (susanwheelerdesign.com) and founder/CEO of the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference (responsiblejewelryconference.com). Hear how she has done this by building a responsible supply chain for gold, gemstones, pearls, and diamonds that enables her to create jewelry linking to at least one of the UN goals (which range from "no poverty" and "zero hunger" to sustainable communities).


Subcontracting: What the Experts Need You to Know

1:30 to 3 p.m., Community Hall

If you design jewelry and use outside contractors to produce it, you need to be at this session. From design considerations to final finish and everything in between, learn the pro tips that will make your partnerships with casters, platers, and jewelers more productive (and more enjoyable!) with higher quality outcomes. Moderator: Andrea Hill, Hill Management Group (hill-management.com). Panelists: Joe Lovato, Legor USA (legor.com); Aaron Velasquez, Theta Plate (thetaplate.com); Joel Weiss, Carrera Casting (carreracasting.com); and Linus Drogs, Au Enterprises (auenterprises.com).


MJSA’s At the Bench Live: Secure Stone Setting

2 to 3:30 p.m., Main Stage

Channel, prong, bezel... Regardless of the style, every setting shares the same basic goal: to hold a gem securely. Ann Cahoon, head of the jewelry making and repair department at North Bennet Street School (nbss.edu), will demonstrate best practices in stone setting using both conventional and handmade tools. She’ll also offer a few tips and tricks that can help to simplify the process.


On the Ground Floor: How to Identify Trends Early

4 to 5:30 p.m., Community Hall

Knowing the difference between a long-term trend and a brief fad can have a huge impact on your business, helping you to avoid costly, wasteful investments. Being able to spot those trends is just as important. In this session, you’ll discover how to spot the emerging social, technological, political, economic, and artistic trends that are affecting how consumers will buy jewelry for years to come—and then use those insights to your advantage. Presented by Marlene Richey, art/business consultant (marlenerichey.com) and author of the award-winning Profiting by Design: A Jewelry Maker’s Guide to Business Success (MJSA Press).


MJSA’s At the Bench Live: The Three Cs: Carving, CAD, and Casting

4 to 5:30 p.m., Main Stage

Whether hand-carving models or creating them through CAD, bench jewelers must understand casting’s dynamics to ensure those models can become well-made jewelry. Discover tips and tricks for creating precise models that will lead to clean castings. Presented by Gary Dawson, Gary Dawson Designs (garydawsondesigns.com) and chairman of the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers.



Monday, March 16


Custom Jewelry Forum: Communicating with Clients

10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Main Stage

Sponsored by the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers

Sometimes one of the hardest tasks in creating custom jewelry is not the designing, but the deciphering—learning to read customers’ styles and tastes, so the final design reflects who they are. The key to this is robust communication. This open forum, led by Gary Dawson and Joel McFadden of the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers, will explore the various communication methods—verbal, pictorial, even tactile—in which custom jewelers can unlock customers’ preferences and deliver a design that fits their personalities.


What We Need to Do for 2020

11 a.m. to noon, Community Hall

Consumer values and shopping behaviors have changed dramatically. This means that the way we sell, the channels we sell through, the methods we use to market, and our sourcing behaviors and disclosures must also change. How businesses lead, structure, organize, and innovate is also changing. Learn what the jewelry industry must do to transform, keep up, and succeed in the 2020s. Presented by Andrea Hill, Hill Management Group (hill-management.com).


How Low Can It Go? What the FTC’s New Gold Karat Guidelines Mean

1 to 2:30 p.m., Community Hall

Is this the end of the "karat gold" brand? When, in 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) eliminated the 10k minimum threshold for karat gold, it cleared the way for the recent introduction of a 1k gold alloy. It also raised a host of questions: How low can karat gold go before the alloys begin to show tarnish, corrosion, and other failures? How will it change consumers’ perception of the metal? And how should the properties of these alloys be explained to consumers, to avoid confusion and loss of trust? This panel discussion will explore the consequences of the FTC’s decision, and how manufacturers and designers can best move forward in its wake. Moderator: Andrea Hill, Hill Management Group (hill-management.com). Panelists: Mark Hanna, Richline Group (richlinegroup.com); Sara Yood, Jewelers Vigilance Committee (jvclegal.org); and Michael Akkaoui, Tanury Industries (tanury.com).


MJSA’s At the Bench Live: Finish Line: Creating Cool Textures

2 to 3:30 p.m., Main Stage

Designers continue to use evocative textures—hammered, scratched, stippled, and more—to enhance their creations. See how, with a few basic tools and techniques (along with some imagination), you can add flair to your designs. Presented by Lee Krombholz, Krombholz Jewelers (krombholzjewelers.com).


Getting Started with Blockchain

3 to 4 p.m., Community Hall

Blockchain is revolutionizing jewelry manufacturing supply chains and other critical value streams in the industry. It enables transparency and trust across all components in a piece of jewelry—from mine to the final consumer product. But what does it take to be successful with blockchain? This presentation begins with an overview of blockchain and then explores how to get started with this game-changing technology. Presented by Anne B. Miller, a recognized thought leader in business transformations who worked at IBM for many decades and is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.


MJSA’s At the Bench Live: Finishing Castings

4 to 5:30 p.m., Main Stage

Any casting fresh from the investment still needs to be cleaned and finished. Learn the best methods to clean a casting quickly and efficiently, and the various possibilities you have to apply a stunning finish. Presented by Joel McFadden, owner of the Art of Jewelry by Joel McFadden (jmdjewelry.com).