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A city gem of silver and gold

Philadelphians looking to bejewel their Christmas sweethearts at the turn of the 20th century did not go to Jared; they went to Samuel Kind.

Philadelphians looking to bejewel their Christmas sweethearts at the turn of the 20th century did not go to Jared; they went to Samuel Kind.

A Bohemian immigrant, 20-year-old Kind reached Philadelphia at the height of the Civil War, perfecting his English while working for an importer of laces and other "white goods."

In 1872, with a young family to support, Kind set out on his own as a wholesaler of plated and gilt jewelry under the name S. Kind & Co., occupying a small room on Third Street above Callowhill.

That was a tough time for entrepreneurs, akin to starting a business in 2008.

The equine influenza had put horse-drawn trolleys out of commission, so Kind had to schlep 40 pounds of samples across the city on foot.

Worse, the Panic of 1873 - incited by railroad and real estate speculation - crippled the economy. The passage of the Coinage Act soon thereafter further depressed silver prices.

Of the 18,000 businesses that failed nationwide, however, S. Kind & Co. was not one of them.

Kind's business grew once he eschewed wholesale in favor of retail, with "attention confined entirely to diamonds, watches, jewelry, silverware and clocks," exclaimed the store's annual publication, Catalogue S.

More than 17,000 shoppers visited the opening of Kind's new store at 928 Chestnut St. in 1896, examining wares such as glove rings, diamond lavalieres, 14-karat-gold hatpins, and sterling-silver bureau sets.

As business continued to shine, Kind's three sons joined the company and relocated the shop to 1110 Chestnut. Passersby gawked at the gleaming jewels in the storefront, with thousands of Philadelphians daily consulting Kind's 20-foot, four-dial sidewalk clock.

The cash register stayed full during both world wars and the Great Depression, but the company was finally sundered by that other business bogeyman: changing consumer habits. Kind shuttered in 1964, after nearly 93 years in business.

"With the ever-growing trend toward minimum service and lower-quality standards, . . . we felt we just couldn't compromise ourselves, and so we have elected to go out of business," eulogized Samuel's grandson, Oscar Kind Jr., in the Bulletin.

But this was not Kind's final glimmer.

In 2014, two jewelers in New York - including Kind's great-great-great-grandson - reestablished the business. The pair continues Kind's tradition of quality service and conscientious business practices, crafting pieces from recycled precious metals and ethically sourced gemstones.

"After hearing tales of the business my whole life, I went to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and read the four-volume archive on the company and my family's history that is housed there," reflected Jacob Berger, who cofounded the new company with Sophie Fader. "I knew right away that we had to resurrect it."

"The past, as it turned out, was the key to our future," said Fader. "Delving into the history of Jacob's great-great-great-grandfather's jewelry company, we discovered an honest business in a tumultuous time."

"It takes a lot of iced coffee, love, and care to create this work, and we're so honored to get to do it," she said.

To learn more about the story of S. Kind & Co., visit