Immigrant brothers from Europe found their fortune in California and built their business into an institution that would endure for over 55 years.
It seems fitting that Joseph and Leo Granat chose to open their first shop in Stockton, California. Stockton was situated in the heart of the California Gold Rush in 1848, its location considered ideal given that it as the head of navigation on the San Joaquin River. By the time the brothers arrived in 1905, the Gold Rush was a memory, but many of those who came west to find their fortune remained, finding careers in canning and manufacturing.
Growing the Business
The first Granat Brothers location was a jewelry manufacturer and repair shop. By 1922, they had built their flagship store, located at Grand and Geary in San Francisco. Five years after that, they constructed a combination retail outlet and manufacturing workshop in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Engaging the Public
Granat Brothers put their efforts into building their business to cater to the wedding and engagement ring clientele, boasting the “largest selection of diamond rings in all of Western America.” Ultimately, their distribution was spread over 5,000 retailers.
A 1922 advertisement described “All-Platinum Rings – Perfect Blue-White Diamonds.” A one-half carat total weight diamond engagement ring was proposed as the perfect Christmas gift for only $285. (Which may sound pretty good; until you realize that at today’s value, the ring would set you back $4,138.)
While Granat specialized in diamond engagement and wedding rings, they also produced lockets, brooches, bracelets, necklaces, pins, flatware, silver service pieces, costume jewelry, cigarette cases, and compacts. The company maintained a keen eye toward changing trends in fashions, employing a local touch to their designs. Granat Brothers jewelry was carried by retailers in many major U.S. cities, from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Springfield, Massachusetts.
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce stated that by 1929 Granat Brothers dominated the market in Detroit, Michigan, with multiple retailers supplying their customers with Granat diamond ring mountings.
Granat Brothers applied for several copyrights and patents for their wedding jewelry. In the 1940s, the firm attempted to promote men’s engagement rings, designed to match the bride’s ring.
Seeking New Talent
While the Great Depression wore on, the Granat Brothers placed ads in publications across the country seeking one hundred fine goldsmiths and jewelry setters. Over 800 workers applied. Those who made the cut were employed at the Granat Brothers building on 22nd and Mission, which was also the main jewelry store on the block. It became the largest manufacturing jewelry company located west of the Mississippi River. Many of the old goldsmiths in the Bay Area could trace their history to the Granat Brothers.
After World War II, a curious trend began to appear, and Granat Brothers were right there to take advantage of it. The post-war baby boom brought affluent parents into the store in search of miniature jeweled pieces for their offspring. Children’s jewelry proved to be a lucrative side business for the jeweler, particularly in the form of rings and lockets.
The firm designed many of their engagement rings with matching wedding bands that presented a seamless appearance, going so far to trademark the name “Wed-Lok.” Alas, they were not able to patent the process of the interlocking wedding sets, and the patent was refused because too many others were producing similar styles during the same period.
The brothers had much success, building the business over the course of 55+ years. After Leo passed away in 1955, Joseph carried on for another six years before breaking up the company, selling the retail stores to a competing retail jeweler and the manufacturing side to another venture.
Granat Brothers’ jewelry was so timeless, their dies continued to be used until well into the 1980s, although those pieces were not stamped with the Granat Brothers' name.
- Granat Brothers were listed as exhibitors in the California Industries Exposition of 1921.
- During the 1950s and 1960s, Granat Brothers won the Diamond International Award for Excellence in Creative Designs for eight years running.
- The firm was the proud sponsor of the Granat Brothers Jewelers San Francisco Mid-Winter League semi-pro baseball team.