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AJS Kicks Off 2021 with Historical Event

The first jewelry trade event of the year, the SoHo Experience by AJS, featuring RJO, highlighted safety and success.




AJS Kicks Off 2021 with Historical Event

(PRESS RELEASE) ATLANTA, GA — In the first jewelry trade event of 2021, the Atlanta Jewelry Show welcomed the jewelry industry back to a live, in person event March 5-7, 2021.

For the first time, AJS and the retail and exhibitor members of the Retail Jewelers Organization (RJO) were co-located on one show floor at the Cobb Galleria Centre. According to both organizations, teamwork was instrumental to ensure the combining of these two associations felt like a unified experience for buyers and exhibitors alike. The common priorities for both groups were safety and success.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important for our industry to work together to prove that we can re-connect in safe ways, and there is value in our shared commitment to events that consistently value both safety and success equally,” said Libby Brown, Atlanta Jewelry Show Executive Director.

RJO Chief Executive Officer Sarah Streb adds, “Face-to-face is what the jewelry industry needs and wants, and we were happy we could provide a safe environment to do business in person. For this reason, we are thrilled to have been a part of this first-time collaboration and bringing our jewelry community together.”

Safety Shines

As in October 2020, the AJS Health and Safety Plan, Safety Shines was again put into action to help protect guests from COVID-19. Among the health protocols were:

  • Pre-event communication and on-site signage
  • Controlled check-in process to direct attendee flow with signage and floor stickers
  • Daily health screening and temperature scanning prior to entry
  • Face masks were required
  • Floor plans and seating designed to respect physical distancing
  • Sanitizing stations readily available throughout the venue
  • Protective barriers available for exhibitor use
  • Complimentary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits

Connected Conference

The SoHo Experience kicked off strong on Friday, March 5 with the popular onsite education component, the ConnectED Conference. This pre-show day of learning featured crowd favorites Kate Peterson, Terry Chandler, Larry Johnson, and George Prout, plus insights from forward-thinking partners The Ben Smithee Group, ClearSale and Punchmark. Live sessions focused on e-commerce, livestreaming, sales, and merchandising techniques were a refreshing change of pace after months of virtual learning.

AJS Education Director Cindy Chandler said, “A simply amazing day of learning for our retailers, and my sincerest thanks goes out to our incredible speakers for their generosity and commitment to helping the industry through these unique times. The attendees were so eager to ditch their screens, at least for the day, that we had a full house, and a waiting list!” The demand was so high that several presenters hosted live demonstrations throughout the day and the weekend in order to reach as many retailers as possible.

SoHo Pro

Introduced in March 2020, the SoHo Pro Program continues to grow as a resource to empower the retail community and guide them on the path to prosperity. SoHo Pros from all sectors of the jewelry world and experts in their respective fields, were on hand, sharing information and actionable solutions based on their knowledge, experience, and passion for the industry. SoHo Pros, in addition to the ConnectED conference presenters, included Bill Warren (Jewelers Success Coach), Brenda Gamba (JBT), Sheri Idhe (Jewelers Mutual) and Paul Yoachum (Clientbook). Retailers were given a SoHo Pro Handbook, and will continue to be provided valuable content to build upon this resource throughout the year.

SoHo Experiences


Although the experiences that AJS is known for were limited due to the ongoing health concerns, attendees were still able to enjoy some traditional southern hospitality plus a few fun attractions on the show floor. Chic Pistachio hosted an ear-piercing party, with all safety precautions in place, and Eric Lux displayed his Rembrandt Charms sponsored race car, which was a huge attraction for buyers. A live DJ added to the already high energy on the show floor.

“The on-site vibe was upbeat, enthusiastic and hopeful, with both jewelry brands and retail buyers eager to reconnect and conduct business in a live setting,” said Libby Brown. On a more visceral level, Brown said she could literally feel the enthusiasm from crowd. “Although you couldn’t see the smiles behind the masks, you could genuinely see the happiness in everyone’s eyes,” she said.


Retail buyers in record-setting numbers were equally delighted, many of whom were first time attendees of AJS.

Tom Nelson, Nelson Jewelry, Spencer, Iowa states, “Fantastic! First time attendee. You guys did an awesome job with this collaboration. It was a great show. I personally could not be happier with how things went. Kudos on a job well done!”

“I love the Atlanta Show! I felt safe as I walked around. Your team always does such a wonderful job,” said Patti Reed, Owner, JWR Jewelers, Athens, Georgia.


Aleah Arundale, Owner, Olympian Diamonds, Chicago, Illinois said, “The number one reason to visit AJS is the heart of this show. They love jewelers, they love vendors. Even though nobody can actually hug each other, the Atlanta show just feels like one big hug!”


The tradeshow featured nearly 200 vendors and included several new exhibitors to AJS.

Exhibitor Shawn Clark, Heavy Stone Rings, said the Atlanta Jewelry Show is a “great value, very organized and great at communicating. I hadn’t done the show in some time and you were great at letting us know what to do and expect.”

Mike Abbott, Director of Sales, The Edge by Abbott Jewelry Systems, stated “The show itself rocked and we were busy non-stop. Two days of jewelers interested in technology and bettering their business. All the retailers were excited to be at the show, and they all felt safe and comfortable. Great job done by all who were involved.”

Exhibitor Anna Zuckerman, Anna Zuckerman Luxury said, “We are absolutely thrilled to be here. This is just our second time exhibiting here at AJS and we’ve had our busiest days since the conception of my company. Anna continued, “The show absolutely exceeded our expectations.”

Fall 2021 Show

The Atlanta Jewelry Show announces new dates for its Fall Show: October 23-25, 2021, plus the ConnectED Conference on Friday, October 22. With a successful March show in the books, there is huge momentum going forward. Save the date and check the website soon for further information. Registration opens this summer.



When Sales Beat Projections, You Know Wilkerson Did Its Job

There are no crystal balls when it comes to sales projections. But when Thomasville, Georgia jeweler Fran Lewis chose Wilkerson to run the retirement/going-out-of-business sale for Lewis Jewelers and More, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that even Wilkerson could one-up its own sales numbers. “Not only did we meet our goal, but we exceeded the goal that Wilkerson had given us by about 134%,” she says. After more than 40 years in the business, Lewis says she decided a few years ago to “move towards retirement.” And she was impressed by Wilkerson’s tenure in the industry. Overall, she’d recommend the company to anyone else who may be thinking it’s time to hang up their loupe. “As a full package, they’ve done a very good job and I’d definitely recommend Wilkerson.”

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