America’s 10 Oldest Jewelers: Shreve, Crump & Low

Shreve, Crump & Low

Since 1796

39 Newbury St.

How old is Shreve, Crump & Low? Silversmith and watchmaker John McFarlane founded it in 1796, when George Washington was still president. Its first location stood across the street from Paul Revere’s silver shop. It is considered not only America’s second-oldest jeweler, but one of the oldest stores in America, period. In the 1800s, the company became Shreve, and then Shreve, Crump & Low in 1869 (the same year JCK was founded). Three years later, its building was destroyed in the Great Boston Fire of 1872. While no members of the company’s three namesake families remain involved in the business, the retailer proudly boasts local Boston ownership: Second-generation jeweler David G. Walker purchased the store in 2006, after its parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy that same year. Walker’s son, Brian, who serves as vice president and creative director, reveals what it takes to make it through the centuries. 

Our ­longevity defines us. It’s a subtle reminder on our logo.”

Brian Walker

It pays to honor the past. 
Shreve, Crump & Low’s Boston store, while not in its original location, still houses the company’s vintage chandeliers. “Our longevity defines us. It’s a subtle reminder on our logo: ‘Shreve, Crump & Low: Fine Jewelry, Watches & Gifts Since 1796.’ People don’t question the reputation of a company that’s been around for 200 years.” Walker says his family recognizes they don’t own just any store. “The name is not Shreve, Crump & Walker. It’s Shreve, Crump & Low. We are stewards of the company, and we feel the need to carry on the institution and all that it represents in the luxury goods marketplace.”

Nos are a no-no.
“I tell my staff: Never tell a client no. If someone comes in and wants the ring done in a certain way, we will make it exactly how they want it. We will not stop until they are happy.”

Service is key.
“We offer a high level of customer -service during the sale and after the sale. If you buy a wedding ring from us, you know that we will always service it for you. We encourage people to come in to have their prongs tightened and bands checked.”

That service extends to cyberspace.
The store’s website isn’t just transactional, Walker explains. “If you are perusing the website and you are looking for sapphire and diamond rings, we will send the inquiry to a salesperson and that person will get in touch with you. I view it the same as if someone walks into the store; we have someone work with you from soup to nuts. I view it as our tether to the client at home.”

America, get ready.
Shreve, Crump & Low now has two stores in Boston, and last year it opened its third store in a former bank in Greenwich, Conn., marking the company’s first expansion outside of Massachusetts (but still in New England). “We are a very New England brand, but the name Shreve, Crump & Low really resonates throughout the United States. Somewhere down the road, I believe we could focus on a couple of key areas and Shreve could have a national image.” 

Top: The Newbury Street awning proudly places the store’s age front and center; inset: the Walker family—owner David, daughter Olivia, and sons Bradford and Brian.

Next: Black, Starr & Frost

More of America’s 10 Oldest Retailers:

Bixler’s Jewelers

Black, Starr & Frost

Merkley Kendrick Jewelers


Randolph Jewelers

Shreve & Co.

Kuhn’s Jewelers

Saboe Jewelry

Nelson Coleman Jewelers

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