The Green Bull, located in Texas Hill Country, is one of two notable independent fine jewelry retailers in the midst of closing.
New York—Two notable jewelry retailers, one in Massachusetts and the other in Texas, are closing.

Monahan & Co. opened in Worcester, Massachusetts on Oct. 10, 1815 after goldsmith Jeremiah O’Neill Patrick Monahan immigrated to the area from Dublin, Ireland.

Five generations later, current owner Michael Monahan, Jeremiah’s great- great-grandson (who was, coincidentally, born on Oct. 10), said the store is “undisputedly the oldest family-owned and -operated jewelry store in America.”

Monahan & Co. has received much recognition over its 200-plus years in business, earning letters and visits from politicians like John F. Kennedy Jr. and athletes like Muhammad Ali. Monahan said that at one point, a sitting governor of Massachusetts issued a proclamation that, statewide, Oct. 10 is Monahan Day.   

The store is famed for its Cape Cod gold ball bracelet and Monahan said it was Jeremiah Monahan who introduced the famous Irish Claddagh ring, depicting a heart, two hands and a crown, to the United States in the 19th century.

The store moved from Worcester to Harwich, Massachusetts in the 1970s, right on Route 28, Cape Cod’s main drag.

Monahan said his “unique and historical store violates every single rule of displaying jewelry.”

Rather than displaying a few items in a case and letting product “breathe” as is suggested, Monahan will stock 300 to 400 pieces per display while a silver jewelry case “might have 1,000 pieces inside.”

Monahan’s Cape Cod customers love the treasure hunt of digging through the store’s many items.

Those not interested in jewelry enjoy looking around the historic building, which has antique cars parked outside and pictures of the store’s famous patrons on the walls.

20180829 MonahanMonahan & Co. After working since the age of 7, Monahan, who will be 78 this October, is ready to retire. He plans to reside in Vero Beach, Florida during the winter and Jeremiah’s original homestead in Ireland during the summers, which he recently purchased.

He explained that the digital era has made operating a brick-and-mortar independent more difficult than ever.

“Fifteen-hundred packages a week are coming into Harwich Port,” he noted, and many of them from companies like Amazon. “The internet has really hurt the mom-and-pop stores. You can see the handwriting on the wall.”

Still, he sees the necessity of selling online. His daughter, who also resides in Florida, plans to operate an online version of the store beginning in October at MonahanJewelers.com and at TheCapeCodBracelet.com.

For now, Monahan is operating a “Store Closing Forever” sale, without the help of any liquidators. Sept. 30 will be the store’s last day.

In Boerne, Texas, about 30 miles outside of San Antonio in Texas Hill Country, the Gowen family has owned and operated The Green Bull Fine Jewellery Couture for 21 years.

Located at 325 South Main St. in a circa 1898 livery stable the Gowens renovated, the store is a local mecca for jewelry from designers like Sethi Couture, Gabriel & Co. and Meira T, as well as owner Jerry Gowen’s own designs.

Gowen has been dedicated to a career in design since creating a tie tack for his father when he was 6 years old.

He went on to earn a degree in theology while also studying painting and sculpture. He studied jewelry technology at the Texas Jewelry Institute and was winner of the Texas State Design competition in 1997, the same year he and his family opened The Green Bull.

The store was known for its warm, friendly attitude, garnering several awards over the years. It was voted “Best Jeweler” in Kendall County for 20 years in a row and included in the Fodor’s Travel Guide “Favorite Shopping” list. InStore magazine designated The Green Bull as one of “America’s Coolest Stores” in 2009.

“We are so grateful for the accolades,” Gowen said in a press release, “but unfortunately our sales have dropped dramatically over the past three years. The jewelry that we manufacture here, the custom design and repairs have kept us busy. However, our other jewelry sales of beautiful fine jewelry and engagement rings have almost disappeared.

“This is an incredibly sad time for me, my wife Kathryn our daughter Emma, our son Sandis, and our staff. I have the same passion for this store today as I did on the day we opened it. But difficult times call for difficult decisions, and this was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make … our only choice is to close our doors in Boerne forever.”

The Green Bull is in the midst of a going-out-of-business liquidation sale, in which the store’s multimillion-dollar inventory of diamonds, gemstone jewelry and timepieces are being offered for up to 60 percent off retail.

The Gowens also will sell the historic livery stable that houses The Green Bull.

For further information on the sale, contact the store at 830-249-7393.

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