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After 110 Years in Business in Pasadena, Family-Owned Arnold’s Fine Jewelry Set to Close

Farewell celebration planned for Nov. 17; 20% discount on most merchandise

Published on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 | 11:36 am

One of Pasadena’s oldest family-owned businesses, Arnold’s Fine Jewelry, is planning to close next week.

“After decades and decades of serving the jewelry needs of our clients, it is time for me to retire, and Arnold’s Fine Jewelry is going to close,” Arnold’s third-generation owner, Bruce Arnold, a certified gemologist and member of the American Gem Society, wrote in a postcard mailed out communitywide last week.

“It pretty much sums it up, I think,” Arnold said recently of the postcard’s text. 

Unlike many local businesses that have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arnold said it was simply time for him to retire.

“I’ve been doing this for 45 years… the lease was coming up for renewal in the spring, and I just decided I couldn’t do this anymore,” said Arnold, who recently turned 70. “I love my customers, but I love my sanity more.”

Arnold recalled another longtime business owner who moved to Arizona after closing his shop after decades in business. 

“He did that about as long as I’ve done this,” Arnold recalled of the former hardware store proprietor. “But I’m staying put. I’m staying in town. I like Pasadena. I just simply can’t go on with the stress and the pressure of what I do entails.”

So, as some have speculated, the decision had nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic?

Founder C.O. Arnold opened his first store in Ottumwa, Iowa near the Des Moines River in 1890, selling jewelry and musical instruments from a two-story building pictured below. [1] He moved his family and business to Pasadena around 1910, setting up shop in a storefront near the present-day Mi Piace Italian restaurant in the Old Town district, pictured below circa 1918 – note the Model T cars parked in front! [2] (Photos courtesy of Bruce Arnold)
“Absolutely nothing,” Arnold said. “We were closed for a couple of months. Business took a hit, but it bounced back. We have funny tape on our floors, and everyone wears a mask. But it’s not that. COVID had nothing to do with it,” he said.

“My clients have been good to us, and I like to think that we have been good to them. That sorrows me, but I made the decision that I don’t want to spend whatever time I have left, which I hope will be a goodly length, feeling the way I feel. It’s not worth it.”

Paul Little, CEO and president of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, called Arnold’s closure “a huge loss.” Plus, he said, “They’re really nice folks. It’s got to be difficult for Bruce and everybody there.”

“They’ve been in business in Pasadena more than 100 years, and all told 130 years, but yeah, it’s a real shame,” Little said.

“We’re losing another one of those businesses that have been around forever,” Little said. “It’s really been a longstanding part of the community. It’s not just the store, but the family has been involved in a lot of things too.”

The company started in 1890 when C.O. Arnold opened a store in Ottumwa, Iowa, near the Des Moines River, selling jewelry and musical instruments, according to the business website. 

After moving to California in 1910, C.O. opened up a business on Colorado Boulevard in what today is known as Old Town, where Mi Piace restaurant is located. The business moved to the mid-city area, near City Hall, in 1935. 

Bruce Arnold, at far right, and the staff of Arnold’s Fine Jewelry’s shown celebrating the store’s 100th anniversary in 1990. (Courtesy photo)

Bruce Arnold, C.O.’s grandson, began working side-by-side with his father at the store in the mid-1970s and bought the business when his dad retired.

Today, the shop is located in the Colonnade at 350 S. Lake Ave., across the street from Macy’s department store.

“The store’s farewell celebration begins Nov. 17 with a discount of 20 percent on most merchandise (some restrictions apply),” Arnold wrote on the postcard. “Repairs will be accepted as our ability allows, probably through Dec. 15.”

All COVID protocols must be observed, and special orders and custom work must be prepaid. 

“No layaways or holds, cash or payment cards only,” the card states. “Everything must go. Please keep in mind: No exchanges, no returns, no exceptions.”

Little remembered buying his daughter pearls at Arnold’s Fine Jewelry last year for her birthday.

“They were always such nice folks to work with, and very customer service-oriented,” Little said. 

“It’s a shame. They will be missed,” he said.

Arnold said he has no immediate plans.

“I have other interests besides my work. I’m a bit of a homebody. I’ll putter around there, and visit museums and gardens and whatever suits my fancy,” he said.

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