A Chronicle of the American Jewelry and Watch Trade Since 1869

1869 Tiffany pocket watch
An 18k gold Tiffany & Co. pocket watch, circa 1869

When JCK was founded in July 1869 as the monthly ­American Horological Journal, with offices at 229 Broadway in New York City (now the location of the Woolworth Building), it was the first publication of its kind. An 1873 merger with The Jewelers’ Circular positioned it to acquire or vanquish a host of rival publications to become, in 1935, The Jewelers’ Circular-Keystone. Not until the 1990s did that cumbersome title morph into the cryptic, three-letter moniker used today.

That’s the short version.

The long version begins, in earnest, with an Englishman named Daniel H. Hopkinson—for even though G.B. ­Miller founded the American Horological Journal, we owe our ­greatest debt to Hopkinson, founder of The Jewelers’ Circular. A proprietor “who championed right at all times, and ­vigorously ­denounced all frauds and shams,” he set out “to make the journal a leader in thought as well as instructive to those in the trade or about to enter it,” according to the editors of the magazine’s Feb. 5, 1919, golden anniversary edition. (Hopkinson didn’t live to celebrate the milestone; he died July 25, 1884, at the age of 44.)

1870 turquoise diamond tiara
Circa 1870 turquoise and diamond tiara, from the collection of Principessa Caracciolo di Castagneto; sold at Sotheby’s for $35,474

Since Hopkinson’s day, JCK—and its numerous forebears, all outlined above and on the following page—has covered the news of the American jewelry and watch trade with such ­devotion that it’s difficult to distinguish the publication’s history from that of the industry it covered. For all practical purposes, they are one and the same.

1870 diamond sapphire feather brooch
Circa 1870 peacock feather brooch with circular and cushion diamonds and claw-set oval sapphire; sold at Sotheby’s for $5,070

It is in that spirit that we’ve approached this special ­sesquicentennial issue—as a book-style tribute to a magazine and trade that have sustained each other for 150 years and counting. In these pages, you’ll find seven chapters, each devoted to a different category—Industry, Retail, Style, Diamonds, Bridal, Gemstones, and Innovation—and within each chapter, two or more articles covering topics that have occupied and preoccupied our readers for the better part of 15 decades.

Throughout the issue, we’ve included quotes from JCKs past, many of them surprisingly relevant today (see “Eternal Affairs” for some choice examples). We hope that, in reading them, you’ll feel a greater connection to generations of jewelers who came before, all of whom grappled, like you, with the nuances of selling a product that remains fundamentally different from other consumer goods. (We dare you to find a better convergence of beauty, value, and meaning.)

1870 diamond gold silver brooch
Circa 1870 gold and silver brooch with sapphire, diamonds, and interchangeable diamond section; sold at Sotheby’s for $56,250

Yet it’s not the universal and timeless appeal of jewelry that concerns us; enough has been said on that front. Rather, we’re consumed by the business of jewelry, which is why, since 1869, members of the trade have looked to the pages of “the industry authority” for answers to their most pressing questions about how to sell. And in turn, we’ve looked to them for questions. A marriage of convenience? Sure. But undeniably, too, a marriage of love, built on a mutual passion for an industry like no other. Happy 150th, JCK! You’ve never looked better!

(150 artwork: Yulia Brodskaya; watch: © Tiffany & Co.; tiara and brooches: courtesy of Sotheby’s)

What’s in a Name?

1869 American Horological JournalJuly 1869: G.B. Miller founds the American Horological Journal.

1870 Jewelers CircularFebruary 1870: Daniel H. Hopkinson founds The Jewelers’ Circular.

1869 Watchmaker and JewelerThe Jewelers’ Circular eventually absorbs The Watchmaker and Jeweler (founded 1869), The Jeweller (1872), and the American Watchmakers, Jewelers, and Silversmiths Journal (1872).

1873 Jewelers CircularNovember 1873: The American Horological Journal and The Jewelers’ Circular merge, and in 1875, The Jewelers’ Circular is renamed The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review.

1886 Jewelers Weekly1885: The Jewelers’ Weekly is founded.

1893 Jewelers Review1887: The Jewelers’ Review is founded.

1916 Keystone Weekly1887: The Keystone Weekly is founded. 1891: The Jewelers’ Circular becomes The Jewelers’ Circular-Weekly. 

1917 Jewelers Circular1900 & 1902: The Jewelers’ Circular Publishing Co. purchases The Jewelers’ Weekly and The Jewelers’ Review, respectively.

1934 Keystone cover1917: The Keystone Weekly goes monthly and changes name to
The Keystone.

1935 Jewelers Circular combined KeystoneJanuary 1935: The first combined issue of The Jewelers’ Circular-Keystone appears.

1953 Jewelers Circular KeystoneApril 1955: First issue without The in the name is published.

1990 JCKJanuary 1990: The title—and logo—is shortened to JCK.

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