America’s 10 Oldest Jewelers: Shreve & Co.

Shreve & Co. 

Since 1852 

117 Post St.
San Francisco

Established in San Francisco in 1852 by George Coates Shreve and his nephew, Samuel S. Shreve, Shreve & Co. is just two years younger than the state of California. The firm moved into its historic location at 200 Post St., near Union Square, one month before the earthquake of 1906 and remained there until August 2015, when the jeweler was forced to vacate to make way for Harry Winston. Throughout the turmoil, co-owner Lane Schiffman, vice president of Schiffman’s in Greensboro, N.C., which acquired Shreve & Co. in 1992, has kept a positive attitude. “We are so ready to move forward and build something really special,” he says. The company, which also boasts stores in Palo Alto, Calif., and Portland, Ore., is operating out of a transitional space at 117 Post St. until mid-2016, when Shreve & Co. will move into a permanent location at 150 Post St., just 200 yards from its historic home. The new 15,000-square-foot flagship will boast two floors, expanded shops-in-shop for key brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe, and a new service area. “You know,” Schiffman laughs, “I’d just as soon be lucky than good sometimes.” 

“One of our taglines is ‘Pursue the exceptional.’?”

Lane Schiffman

Technology is critical, but so are people.
We bought Shreve in ’92. I have two brothers…and we operated with our father. The mobile phone was as big as a suitcase. We had fax machines. As it’s all changed, technology has really been a friend to us. But at the end of the day, there isn’t enough technology to make up for quality people. We have lots of key metrics, and…we know our sales and inventories in real time. But nothing really happens until someone actually sells somebody, and that’s all human-to-human, relationship-oriented selling.”

Stressful times can be the best times.
“Professionally, this year has been the height of stress, but as I look back, it might be the most fun I’ve ever had. It’s not just business as usual. We’ve been able to conduct an incredible event, we’ve been able to talk to all our vendors, we’ve gotten incredible support—I
can’t tell you how heartwarming that is.”

Inject profits back into the business.
“We’ve never taken an investment out of this company in almost 25 years. We’re continually reinvesting—after you pay taxes, what you’ve got left over—and we continue to build.”

Align yourself with the best brands.
“One of our taglines is ‘Pursue the exceptional.’ We want it known all over the world that Shreve & Co. is where you can find, under one roof, 50 of the greatest, finest jewelers and 12 of the most incredible watchmakers—brands like Patek Philippe. They set the bar for the finest watchmaking in the world, and that’s…what we want to do with Shreve: Set the bar on every level.”

Make friends and build relationships.
“The secret [to our longevity] is deep in our DNA: It’s paying respect to your clientele, seeing that their purchase is not only a good decision but you also help them service and care for it throughout their lifetime and the next generation. It’s deep in our roots: lifetime value.”

Top: the “Shreve building,” home to Shreve & Co. for 109 years; inset: the Shreve building in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake

Next: Kuhn’s Jewelers

More of America’s 10 Oldest Retailers:

Bixler’s Jewelers

Shreve, Crump & Low

Black, Starr & Frost

Merkley Kendrick Jewelers


Randolph Jewelers

Kuhn’s Jewelers

Saboe Jewelry

Nelson Coleman Jewelers

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