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IJO/GIA GemKids Was a ‘Huge Hit’

75% of members was in attendance.




(PRESS RELEASE) SOUTHPORT, CT — The Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO) held its semi-annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA July 19-23, with close to 75% of members in attendance. IJO was in the process of putting together a Kids’ Program when GIA stepped up and offered to present their GemKids class. Forty of IJO’s “Next-Next Gen” signed up, ranging in age from 5 to mid-teens.

“Seeing these children discover the beauty of gemstones first-hand is an experience I will keep in my heart,” said GIA’s Supervisor of Guest Services and class instructor Linda Chudomelka. “Their eyes really lit up when they realized how much fun gemology can be. All of the children were eager to learn, even the little ones who were not able to spell yet.”

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“This program has never been taught in the U.S. outside of the Carlsbad campus, and we thank GIA for bringing this 90-minute educational experience to us,” stated Penny Palmer, IJO’s Director of Member Services. “The hands-on class covered a wide range of subjects from ‘What is a Rock?’ to ‘What is a Mineral?’ to ‘What is a Gem?’, Mohs scale, inclusions, phenomena, tools, birthstones and much, much more.”

According to Jacob Walton, age 5 (Hudson Valley Goldsmith, New Paltz, NY), “My favorite part was when we got to look at the rocks with a flashlight. There were secrets in them, one was all white and when you looked at it with the flashlight, you could see a rainbow.”

Lucca Montoya (Montoya Jewelry Designs, Windsor, CA), also 5, loves to travel and was interested in seeing where various rocks come from. Her favorite stones are rubies. “But the best part was I got to meet Harley!” Lucca’s mom Annie said the class was so interesting she was able to brush-up her own training.

Suzanne Faske from J.H. Faske Jewelers in Brenham, TX brought two of her children. “One thing is for sure — they LOVED it!! We had so many laughs that evening listening to them talking about what they learned.”


“I really enjoyed learning about Amber. It is pretty cool that leaves, bugs, and tree bark can be trapped inside of Amber. I also liked learning about the hardness scale of gemstones. It was fun to scratch the stones together and see which gemstone is harder.” — Caleb Faske, age 7

“One of my favorite parts of the class was using the flashlight to see the different things in a gem. We saw a rainbow, a star, a cloud, glitter and light. It was also fun to see and feel the different textures of rocks.” — Sophia Faske, age 8

“IJO will continue to investigate a varied array of programs to present to our kids”, Palmer added, “with the hope that these classes will inspire them to attain a love of gemology and perhaps one day carry on the family tradition!”

“GemKids is a beautiful example of how we are giving back to the community, giving children around the world a first look at the fascinating science behind all we do,” said GIA Director of Institute Relations Shahdeh Ammadi. “This is part of our mission; Our commitment to educate and ignite passion for gemology reaches far beyond the trade.”

For information on IJO membership contact Penny Palmer at 800.624.9252.





Wilkerson Testimonials | Sollberger’s

Going Out of Business Is an Emotional Journey. Wilkerson Is There to Make It Easier.

Jaki Cowan, the owner of Sollberger’s in Ridgeland, MS, decided the time was right to close up shop. The experience, she says, was like going into the great unknown. There were so many questions about the way to handle the store’s going-out-of-business sale. Luckily for Cowan, Wilkerson made the transition easier and managed everything, from marketing to markdowns.

“They think of everything that you don’t have the time to think of,” she says of the Wilkerson team that was assigned to manage the sale. And it was a total success, with financial goals met by Christmas with another sale month left to go.

Wilkerson even had a plan to manage things while Covid-19 restrictions were still in place. This included limiting the number of shoppers, masking and taking temperatures upon entrance. “We did everything we could to make the staff and public feel as safe as possible.”

Does she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers thinking of retiring, liquidating or selling excess merchandise? Absolutely. “If you are considering going out of business, it’s obviously an emotional journey. But truly rest assured that you’re in good hands with Wilkerson.”

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