We’re not trying to be dramatic here. It was actually dark because Edison hadn’t yet invented the lightbulb. The point is, we've been around a long time. Since 1871, Josephs has been a family-owned company and we've seen a lot of changes. But one thing has never changed: the name on our front door and the weight that it carries as one of the best jewelers in the country. Here’s our story.
Des Moines is established as a city.
Solomon Josephi leaves Prussia and establishes himself in Des Moines. He started working for Plumbs Jewelers as a watchmaker. Solomon became enamored by time pieces and moved to Elgin, Illinois to attend watchmaking school.
Solomon Joseph (no one really knows when or why he dropped the “i”) starts S. Joseph and Sons on 4th and Walnut (in the Kirkwood Hotel). He became well known as a meticulous jeweler and time keeper. The railroad designated S. Joseph and Sons to officially maintain and time the trains.
Josephs added thimbles, thimble repair, watches, watch repair, eye glasses and eventually Polk county license tags to their store.
The telephone makes its debut at Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition.
Late 1800’s into early 1900’s:
Josephs expanded into fine jewelry and giftware. The first piece of jewelry we ever sold is currently at the West Glen location. It is a base metal lapel pin that made its way back to Josephs.
Solomon Joseph passes away. We have the original telegram Jacob and Morris sent to Burton telling him to come home.
Solomon’s son, Burton, moved to Iowa.
Josephs was operating five locations within the state including Marshalltown, Waterloo, Grinnell, Carlisle and Springfield, Missouri. The new headquarters was moved to the Equitable Insurance Building.
Jacob and Morris died during the Great Depression. Both of their wives (Jacob married his nurse on his deathbed) preferred cash over a stake in the business. Burton was forced to sell all but the Equitable Building location to pay them off. Burton left a prosperous grain business to carry on the establishment. We survived because we have always operated our business on cash. When times were tough, everything went back to the business.
The American Gem Society was established. Josephs was a founding member and investor.
We made custom chairs for Colleen Moore’s dollhouse, now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The miniature chairs were made of platinum, using 80 diamonds in each chair and pins as the chair backs. The chair backs were removable so Colleen could still wear them as clips.
William Joseph joined the company. Gertrude Lawrence visited the store and purchased a pair of diamond earrings. When William personally delivered them to her hotel room, she answered her door wearing negligee. She put a “Bundles for Britain” war fund pin on his lapel and he never washed it again.
Burton Joseph was appointed GIA’s board of Governors. He was instrumental in developing GIA through his participation in the Jewelers Research Group. Josephs is still an active member.
After serving in the Navy and practicing law in Houston (he scored the highest on the BAR at the time), Burton Jr. joined the company.
Josephs opened a store in Merle Hay Plaza. Josephs was one of the first 11 tenants in the open air plaza. The plaza featured a train similar to the one at the Blank Park Zoo that took children through the area. Bill Baum also joined the company and served as CEO until his retirement in 2005.
Burton Senior passed away.
Toby Joseph joined the team.
September 28, 1979:
Josephs sold the piece of Cybis that was presented to the Pope as a gift. A framed photograph of the gift is at the Mills Civic store.
John Joseph joined the team.
Josephs took over the Plumb’s Jewelers space in Valley West Mall.
Josephs closed the Merle Hay Mall location and opened the new flagship location on Mills Civic Parkway. Jake Joseph joined the team.
Trisha Joseph joined the team.
Josephs merged the Valley West and Mills Civic location.