1900s: The New England Manufacturing Jewelers’ and Silversmiths’ Association (NEMJSA) is incorporated in the State of Rhode Island in 1903. It soon becomes involved in legislation regulating the stamping of quality marks on gold and silver products, and is instrumental in crafting the final bill passed in 1906. NEMJSA also provides relief to the victims of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and influences the 1909 Payne-Aldrich tariff bill so that imports are not given an unfair competitive advantage.
1910s: President William Howard Taft attends the Annual Banquet in 1910, addressing more than 700 members and guests. Former preacher Woodward Booth is hired as the association’s first full-time paid manager in 1912. He becomes very active with tariff issues, and prepares a manual showing classifications pertaining to the jewelry and silverware industries.
1920s: The association establishes a Stamping Committee in 1923, promoting several revisions to stamping legislation, including protection to both consumers and the producers of jewelry. In 1925, NEMJSA creates two resource "bureaus," one for used equipment and the other for member products. The success of the latter leads, in 1927, to the publication of the first Buyers’ Guide; the Guide remains a biennial publication thereafter. Also that year, the association establishes its headquarters at the Sheraton Biltmore Hotel in Providence.
1930s: In 1930, NEMJSA and the U.S. Department of Commerce conduct the most ambitious survey of the jewelry industry up to that time; results pinpoint distribution as the area in greatest need of attention. Following the death of Woodward Booth in December 1930, Edward Otis Jr. is named Executive Secretary in 1932. Based on survey results, Otis and NEMJSA create "color cards" and fashion bulletins to help manufacturers present more complementary lines to distribution outlets. Following passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act, the government requests that the association be the N.R.A. Code Authority for low- and medium-priced jewelry. With this move comes increased membership among jewelers outside of New England.
1940s: After severe restrictions early in World War II, the association uses its Washington contacts to obtain raw materials. It also helps the industry successfully transition to war-related work after December 1941, ultimately achieving a 70% conversion rate. Following the war, a school is set up for disabled veterans to learn skills related to jewelry manufacturing, and in 1946 the association creates an industrial engineering division to convert factories to peacetime activities. One of the division’s engineers, George R. “Dick” Frankovich, is named executive secretary of NEMJSA in 1948. Efforts begin for the repeal of a 20% excise tax on luxury goods, imposed during wartime but continued by Congress following the end of hostilities.
1950s: Intensive lobbying by NEMJSA and other industry organizations leads to a bill reducing the national excise tax on luxury goods from 10% to 20%, but the bill is tabled upon the outbreak of fighting in Korea. NEMJSA once again helps its members overcome wartime shortages, securing metal exemptions and advocating the use of alternative materials. In 1953, NEMJSA and the Manufacturing Jewelers Sales Association co-sponsor a “Market Week” for its member companies selling to wholesale buyers, with a showing at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence. Two years later, the two associations follow the same format to create what they now call the United Jewelry Show (UJS). The UJS would continue into the late 1990s.
In 1956, the Association becomes a national organization under the name Manufacturing Jewelers & Silversmiths of America. That same year, the association begins publishing its own magazine—AJM (American Jewelry Manufacturer)—and the Jewelers Shipping Service is implemented, allowing members to economically ship their jewelry. (The Service later changes its name to the Jewelers Shipping Association.) More trade show growth occurs in 1959 with the first Convention-Exposition in Providence—the basis for what becomes Expo Providence, the pre-eminent trade show in New England for the next four decades.