If you have been to the West Coast, chances are you have visited the iconic city of San Francisco. With sites like Alcatraz, Lombard Street, and the harbor itself, it is often a destination that is a must-see for many travelers. However, before the gold rush, it wasn't quite like that.
The Brothers Arrive
Brothers Solomon and Gustave Gump started Gump's in 1861 in San Francisco. Originally from Germany, the brothers traveled to New York and then to Florida before the gold rush lured them to the West Coast. Their store began selling mirrors and other supplies to saloons and brothels, yet as San Francisco became more cultured and sophisticated, Gump's started to carry finer things. Those who were made wealthy due to the gold rush depended on the store for supplies.
Gump's survived the 1906 earthquake, but the fire that followed consumed the store's goods and part of the structure itself. Solomon's son, Abraham Livingston (A.L.) Gump was an avid art collector. To fund both the rebuilding and restocking of the store, A.L. sold one of his found paintings to another collector, Dodie Valencia, for $17,000.
A.L. began sourcing new items for the store from Asia, which is how Gump's came to work with jade, one of the earmarks of the brand. The store once had an entire room devoted to jade pieces, oriental art, and collectibles from the Far East. The store also survived the depression, and after A.L. died in 1947, his son Richard became president. The company's success continued until his retirement in 1975, and since then the company has gone through several owners.
Signature Guimp’s Style
No matter who owns the actual store now, the fact remains true that estate and modern Gump's pieces are known for their unique designs and use of bold colors. You would think their valuable construction characterizes pieces made of precious metals and gemstones, but it is often the less expensive elements – such as carved stone and heirloom quality jade - that garner attention for these designs.
Gump's makes strung and wired pieces out of natural stone beads. Other more conventional designs feature set gemstones or flowers crafted out of metal. Today the Gump's name is synonymous with elegance, luxurious goods, and their hometown of San Francisco. They are still finding and incorporating beautiful natural stones into their pieces today.