When I moved to San Francisco in the early ’90s, I was twenty something and naturally I knew everything. One of the things I knew was that of course the Haight was the neighborhood to live in. (The Mission was a different beast altogether, trust me.) I also knew there was no point in trying to get a “real job” because there was a recession on. Another thing I knew was that clothing, jewelry, coffee, socializing, and musical performances were the most important things in life. I was so smart!
Luckily my genius led me to a job at a boutique called Gallery of Jewels. I had wandered by their original store in Noe Valley and discovered they were opening a big new store in the Haight (where Positively Haight Street is now, if you can imagine), just a block from my slum-lord-run apartment building. The boutique owners, Dona Taylor and her husband Bill Hoover, were looking for employees, so I applied. I was tired of working in a coffee shop. People then were really into ordering half caf no foam lattes. Plus, I was obsessed with jewelry, so I was thrilled to be hired. The shop carried only local artists, which was a bit of a novel thing at the time. I washed the last coffee ground from my hair, hung up my overalls (temporarily, I still have them!), and helped Donna and Bill open their Haight Street shop.
That was nearly 20 years ago (!!), and Gallery of Jewels is still going way strong with their Noe Valley and Fillmore locations, two recessions later. And Bill and Dona opened a spanking new shop near Union Square just a few weeks ago! As always, Donna did the interior decorating, and it looks fabulous—see for yourself in the gallery below (she also did the interior of Weston Wear on Valencia. Side note: Weston Wear was the only clothing sold at Gallery of Jewels when I worked there, and I’m happy to see the brand has thrived! It’s wonderful to witness creative people make successful lives doing what they love.
And as a testament to Dona and Bill’s taste, I wanted to share with you guys a few of the pieces that I purchased way back then that, incredibly, I still have. Because of the always-dangerous employee discount I acquired many pieces (plus eating and paying rent didn’t seem entirely necessary back then). As you can see here, they have stood the test of time. As you can also see, I’ve lost the mate to one of the earrings, but I can’t bear to part with the one left behind because it’s so pretty. Perhaps I can make a necklace out of it (I say this a lot; it never happens). But for real, when I think of all the jewelry I’ve bought and lost or broken or blatantly tossed in the trash because it was dated or questionable, it really is astonishing that I’ve hung on to so many Gallery of Jewels pieces.