By Ashley Davis
For the first time, JA New York’s summer jewelry trade show moved from July to August to co-locate with the NY Now home and gift show. Both shows took place last week at the Javits Center.
New York—This year, the JA New York Summer show made a major change, moving its typical July dates to August to coincide with home, lifestyle, handmade goods and gift show NY Now.

Both trade shows are owned by Emerald Expositions, which also runs the Couture jewelry trade show in Las Vegas.

The co-location of JA New York and NY Now is the second major change implemented by Emerald Expositions this year as it, like so many trade show operators, tries out different tactics to adjust to changing times. Emerald introduced an entirely new show in Las Vegas this year aimed at emerging lines, Premier.

JA New York and NY Now took place last week, Aug. 11-14, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, with the former being held on the south end of the convention center’s lower level and the latter occupying the rest of the lower level and the entire top floor. 

While the shows still operated independently, a badge for one show got buyers into both.

JA New York—which had 250 exhibitors this summer, down from about 300 last year–also was extended from three days to four and started an hour earlier than usual, 9 a.m. rather than its traditional 10 a.m., to mirror NY Now.

That was one of the changes that irked some longtime JA New York exhibitors.

A variety of manufacturers and designers interviewed at the jewelry trade show said no one was shopping during the opening hour, with foot traffic only really starting at around 11 a.m.

Not that foot traffic was not great at any point, they said.

“It doesn’t seem as crowded as it used to be,” said Madeleine Stancescu at Royal India USA Inc., parent company of diamond jewelry line Aero Diamonds.

Royal India USA has exhibited at JA New York for around 40 years and Stancescu personally for 15.

“Each year seems to get worse,” she said.

It didn’t help that Royal India had the wrong name on the outside of their booth. “Our customers weren’t able to find us,” she said.

Another brand that asked to remain anonymous lamented: “A lot of people don’t even know this side of the show exists.”

These companies were one of several that took issue with their booth locations in the wake of the move to the Javits Center’s lower level southside; brands accustomed to being at show entrances were now in different locations they felt were unequal to previous placements.

Lika Behar said her customers were able to find her “despite my horrible location because I did a great job of reaching out to them before the show.”

The designer said she didn’t form any new buyer relationships but did very well overall, selling a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces.

For some brands, the jewelry trade show was all about affirming existing relationships or reconnecting with old contacts.

Jan Wong of Majestic Pearl returned to JA New York this summer after five years away, when his business pivoted to focus on online sales and moved its operations from New York to Secaucus, New Jersey.

Prior to the move, Wong had been exhibiting for more than 20 years at JA New York, and said being away hurt his business.

“The sales weren’t good,” he said of his first show back, “but our goal was to recover lost connections,” which he did. Wong also plans to move his business back to New York to be closer to his customers.

He noted that fellow exhibitors with whom he spoke at the show also said sales weren’t good.

The majority of JA New York exhibitors National Jeweler interviewed said the same.

Many noted that they didn’t benefit from having NY Now buyers in attendance, as they were more interested in placing personal orders—buying a piece here and there to wear themselves at prices under retail—than ordering notable quantities for their stores.

Tony Marciano of Quality Gold noted that for the first time in the company’s 35 years of attending the show, it had to implement a purchase minimum to keep away customers doing personal shopping. (Normally, there’s no purchase minimum for Quality Gold’s 25,000 jeweler customers around the country, he noted.)

“The combined shows did not benefit the real JA New York jewelers,” Marciano said.

20190819 JANY insertNecklaces by Eden Presley seen at the JA New York Summer show. The brand’s designer Gwen Meyers was among the exhibitors at the jewelry trade show who benefitted from its co-location with NY Now.

Though many companies complained to National Jeweler about meager foot traffic and fewer serious buyers present, the influx of NY now attendees did boost business for some.

Eden Presley’s Gwen Meyers said she thought it was “a smart move” co-locate with NY Now and Evocateur Jewelry’s Barbara Innamorati said that “the first two days were humming with lots of good traffic.”

“There was definitely a buzz in the aisles that we haven’t seen at shows for a while now,” she elaborated via e-mail after the show. “We had a good mix of reorders from our existing customers, in addition to new customers.

“I think co-locating with NY Now was a good strategic move as we saw several types of retailers that we usually don’t see at JA NY: museum stores and higher-end gift stores.”

Innamorati said posting better signage throughout Javits and having all JA New York exhibitors in one hall, as opposed to the two neighboring halls, would improve the show.

Asked for comment on the show, Drew Lasky, JA New York’s show director, said: “Overall, we’re pleased with our first co-location with NY Now. As with all of the events we produce, we’re continually seeking feedback from both exhibitors and attendees, and making strategic decisions that we hope will enhance their show experience at future events.

“In partnering with NY Now for the first time, we had the opportunity to establish what went well, and what areas can be improved upon, and we will be in ongoing conversations with our show advocates throughout the year in order to determine what changes we can implement in order to improve our next summer event.” 

NY Now does boast its own roster of fine jewelers, brands like Variance Objects and Ila. They said the show went well, as usual, and they didn’t notice any significant changes in co-locating with JA New York.

A representative for JA New York confirmed that next summer, the jewelry trade show will again co-locate with NY Now and run for four days, Aug. 9-12, 2020.

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