Boston’s oldest jeweler, Shreve, Crump & Low, has relocated its flagship boutique to a storefront on the city’s toniest shopping row, Newbury Street. The company operates three stores in Massachusetts, with the new three-level boutique replacing its 7-year-old Boylston Street location. The move puts the independent jeweler in the neighborhood of global designer retailers including Burberry, Valentino, and Chanel.
“We wanted to create a much higher-end shopping experience,” says David Walker, who became the fifth owner of the 216-year-old jewelry retailer in 2006. “I wanted it to be more intimate and connect with customers. The other store wasn’t my creation. I tried to modify it when I bought the company, but this is really what I wanted.”
Walker designed custom jewelry cases with Halo Art—the company responsible for Rolex and Patek Philippe’s ritzy display cases—that curve around the sales floors like mini racetracks. Hand-inlaid wooden floors and decor accents lend the space a rich, warm vibe.
The boutique may be brand new, but it boasts some notable homages to Shreve, Crump & Low’s centuries-old history. Walker restored and displayed a decadent Lalique chandelier that hung in a company store in the 1800s along with a massive painting of Paul Revere that was part of the Shreve archives. There’s also a Paul Revere-style lantern hanging at the top of a winding staircase.
“When you walk in, you get the presence of a Shreve, Crump & Low,” says Walker, who always considered the retailer to be the finest in New England. “I liked it so much, I even applied for a job there when I was just starting out and didn’t get it.” He laughs lightly. “Close to 30 years later, I bought the company.”
The store’s first floor encompasses a customer service department, an in-house jewelry shop, and a watchmaker station. The second floor is dedicated to high-end giftware from houseware brands including Baccarat, Atticus, Lunt and Le Cadeaux (“gifts are a big part of our business,” notes Walker) and a watch shop-in-shop by the Richemont Group, which features timepieces from several of the luxury conglomerate’s signature brands including Omega, IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
“They really went all in with us,” says Walker of Richemont. “We went to New York and gave them a presentation about how we’d like to invest in bringing back the watch business, and they agreed to help.”
The shop’s third floor is dedicated to custom designs, estate jewelry, and baubles from a upscale fine jewelry brands including David Webb, Chopard, and Gumuchian.
“It’s always been our goal to bring back the ultimate in luxury jewelry and jewelry products,” says Walker, who credits his company’s success to a mix of forward-thinking management and deep-rooted customer loyalty.
“Bostonians think of Shreve, Crump & Low as their jewelers. All these local companies have been bought up over the years, and I think people really feel like this is their store. I think that’s why it’s had continued success.”
Despite the recession, Walker says his company has grown every year, with sales growing by 25 percent in 2011 alone. His advice? “Jewelers today have to invest in the future—they can’t be stagnant. There are always ups and downs to any economy.”
While many independent jewelers are still maintaining the status quo, hoping business improves with the economy, Walker is taking advantage of a down time to bolster his business. “We’re definitely investing as if tomorrow were going to be brighter than today.”