Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Getting in step with the high-tech age was the prime goal of many attending Expo New York, the fine jewelry components trade show here last week at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
Attendance at the three-day show, which ran through Tuesday, reached 4,986, including jewelry manufacturers looking to find new sources among the exhibiting model makers, findings firms, platers, casters and gemstone and pearl dealers.
Also showing were firms specializing in computer products and services, an area that buyers said they were particularly interested in.
The attendance was up by nearly 10 percent from last year, according to David Rocha, associate executive director of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America, the organization that sponsors the show.
“This show is more important than ever,” said Robin Garin Rotstein, director of design and product development for Nili Jewelry Corp., noting she was on the lookout for equipment “to improve results.”
“It’s harder and harder to make a great product at a great price. There’s so much going on with technology now that if you don’t keep up, it will leave you behind,” she said.
Typical of the enthusiasm among some buyers, Glenn Arkin, owner of Shining Creations, a West Nyack, N.Y.-based manufacturer, said: “We found a great computer program that will enable us to produce a four-color catalog for our retailers at roughly the same cost as the smaller black and white one we’ve been doing.”
Arkin also said he had seen demonstrations of new tools to set bezels, round rings and hammer silver that would help him improve quality.
Several computer hardware and software manufacturers were demonstrating programs specifically directed to the jewelry industry, and their booths were busy with manufacturers seeking ways to link many of their systems together.
Ben Grimes, marketing manager for Memco, Dallas, which domestically manufacturers a computer-controlled vacuum casting system, said his firm had seen substantially more interest in his product this year as compared to past editions of the show.
“Our interested prospects list has grown by 50 to 75 percent at this show,” Grimes said.
“This industry is finally ready to move in a more modern direction,” noted Edward Berkowitz, president of Computer Designs Inc., whose company exhibited a system that provides pricing, inventory, accounting and visual aid functions.
“Our program allows a manufacturer to work with a customer through the whole design and cost figuring process. At the end, the customer can walk away with a complete quote sheet that also includes a high quality photo of the item,” Berkowitz added.
Some buyers were also devoting attention to raw materials, and colored real, glass or plastic stones were at the top of some shopping lists.
Evette English, partner at The Look of Glass, a Milford, Pa.-based designer and manufacturer of fine and costume jewelry, said she had been successful in finding a lot of loose stones for her custom mounts.
“Purple is such a big color now, and I found some nice amethysts,” English said. She was also upbeat about crystal stones from Swarovski.
Linda Gare, a sales representative at John F. Allen & Son Inc., stone and bead dealer, said color was what designers were focusing on at the show, with pastels and basic jewel tones leading the way. Flowers were also a strong trend and daisies, in particular, were popular.
“Business has been pretty steady, and designers and manufacturers also really seem to know what they want to see this time,” noted Kelly McCabe, West Coast sales manager for Swarovski’s jewelry components division.
She said that findings in sterling silver had been particularly strong, and added that the company has seen a resurgence in demand for blue and pink crystal. Clear crystal, jet and aurora borealis stones continued to be bestsellers, she noted.
Exhibitors said they were also pleased with the show’s new venue. Prior to this edition, it held been held at the Piers.
The exhibitor roster grew to 306 from 297 a year ago, and Rocha noted that many vendors had chosen to enlarge their booths, resulting in a 6 percent increase in show floor space.