California’s Oldest Continuously Operating Jewelry Store Is Closing

Randolph Jewelers in Placerville, Calif., opened in the midst of the California Gold Rush. More than a century later, the shop—the oldest continuously operating fine jewelry store in California—is closing its doors. 

The Sacramento Bee reports that Randolph Jewelers will close by the end of this week, and that current owners Charles and Kathy Stephens are retiring.

The jewelry store debuted as F. F. Barss & Son in 1852 in a temporary tent (cue the cowboys and tumbleweed), before moving into a proper building. Back then, the jeweler specialized in pieces crafted from gold and gems unearthed from local mines. 

The store has been in its current location since 1857, and was rechristened Randolph Jewelers after jeweler William Randolph bought the store in 1946. Randolph sold the store to a young jeweler in training, Charles Stephens, in 1981.

“I came on a hot August afternoon and the guy [Randolph] looked like my grandfather and the place just felt like a comfortable tennis shoe when I walked in,” Stephens told The Sacramento Bee. “I asked him what he wanted for the place, and he told me, and I said, ‘Okay.’ And that was how I got to be here.”

In the store’s earliest years, the hottest-selling items included Black Hills gold and hammered gold nuggets, Charles told the outlet. But over the decades it became more traditional and counted halo engagement rings and repairs among its most lucrative categories. 

The Stephenses had been looking for a buyer for the store, but there were no takers. “Young people are less interested in getting into the industry,” Charles told the Bee. 

Kathy Stephens said hundreds of customers have visited since the couple announced the closing in December.

“Just seeing the emotional outpouring from the community when we announced we were going to close” has been difficult, Charles told the news outlet. “I didn’t want it to end this way, but it had to happen.”

Top: A vintage sign at Randolph Jewelers (courtesy of Randolph Jewelers)

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