The number of buyers and paid exhibitors at the 2012 MJSA Expo New York jumped 10 percent from last year.

Produced by MJSA, the association for jewelry makers, designers, and related suppliers, Expo New York drew more than 3,100 buyers over the course of the show's three-day run (March 11-13) at the Hilton New York.

"Our booth was busy from start to finish, In fact, it was so unexpectedly busy that we ran out of promotional materials mid-day on Sunday," said Zsombor Antal of Best Cast in River Edge, New Jersey. "The growth in custom design attracted many attendees to Expo, who were searching for the kinds of CAD/CAM and casting services we offer. We saw a lot of new faces."

Gem dealers Simon and Laurie Watt of Mayer & Watt in Maysville, Kentucky, were among a burgeoning contingent of colored gemstone firms exhibiting at the show.

After the first day, the first-time exhibitors said with assurance they would be coming back. Not only did they complete sales, but they met many of the newer designers who attend Expo.

"It's a great thing to see so many young people joining the business," said Laurie.

Seminars Attract Crowds, Too

Highlights included a discussion of how compelling stories and messages can drive sales, with representatives from top brands Alex Woo, Chamilia, Gurhan, and Robin Haley Jewelry; a seminar in which Alishan Halebian, the well-known designer and goldsmith, demonstrated, via live music and other means, how he invokes his muse; and a session in which industry web experts Michael Schechter of Honora Pearls, Jennifer Gandia and Kathy Maurella of Greenwich Jewelers, and moderator Eugene Brill of Rio Grande critiqued audience members' websites in a highly interactive and packed session.

Both Sunday and Monday also featured MJSA's At the Bench Livehands-on demonstrations, with packed rooms watching Joel McFadden of JMD Jewelry show various finishing and polishing techniques, and Ann Cahoon of Flying Marquis Studio revealing tips from the forthcoming MJSA Press book, Secret Shop Weapons.

On the last morning of the show, Expo hosted the Future of Design Live Finale.