A Jewel of a Family Business: G. H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers Moves to Sierra Madre After 77 Years in San Gabriel

Published on Aug 24, 2023

For the Wilke family, jewelry is more than just a beautiful business. It’s a legacy that spans three generations and nearly a century of history.

G. H. Wilke Jewelers & Goldsmiths, founded in Chicago in 1929 by Gilbert H. Wilke, has been a fixture on Las Tunas Drive in San Gabriel since 1946. But this month, the family-owned and operated store is moving to Sierra Madre, where it hopes to continue its tradition of excellence and service.

The store held a soft opening Saturday, Aug. 19, at its new home at 38 East Montecito Ave. Suite 12, amid the charming surroundings of Sierra Madre. A grand opening is planned in October, in keeping with tradition: the original jewelry store opened in Chicago in October 1929.

Gilbert H. Wilke founded G.H. Wilke Jewelers during the era of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression. He  attended watchmaking school in Chicago and started repairing watches in Arlington Heights, Illinois.  When he left watchmaking school he purchased a jewelry store going out of business due to the Depression.  Life was hard, but the people in the farming community needed his skills. He was often paid with chicken, eggs and produce, but that didn’t stop Gilbert from pursuing his passion.   

Family history has it that after Wilke’s wife visited her brother in Altadena, California, she “laid down the law” and said “no” to any more Illinois winters. And so alongside his wife and son Glenn Wilke, Gilbert H. Wilke made the journey from Illinois to the San Gabriel Valley, and created a jewelry dynasty that thrives to this day.

The current co-owners of G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers are Tracy Wilke, married to Gilbert’s grandson Dave, and Dario Pirozko, a skilled on-site goldsmith who’s the firm’s main designer.  In 1999 the name was slightly changed to G. H.  Wilke & Co.  Continuing the legacy, the co-owners said they are resolute in fostering a close-knit, community-oriented atmosphere reminiscent of the store’s early days in Illinois. 

“Hard work, dedication, and a commitment to unmatched quality and craftsmanship have been the hallmarks of our success for decades,” Tracy Wilke said. “We celebrate milestone occasions through jewelry, make multi-generational memories and start traditions.  But most importantly, we treat our customers like family, and strive to tell their stories.   We are very excited to continue our history in lovely Sierra Madre.” 

G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers said the new Sierra Madre store will continue to specialize in estate, modern, rare and specialty jewelry, and will continue to provide services like custom jewelry creations, modification of existing jewelry, cleaning, engraving, expert jewelry repair, watch repairs, restringing and appraisals.  G. H. Wilke & Co. is able to bring your designs to life as well.  

To explore the store’s offerings, visit their website, www.ghwilkejewelry.com, or check their social media on www.facebook.com/G.H.WilkeandCo and Instagram, @gh_wilkejewelry. 

For inquiries, call (626) 284.9444 or email ghwilke1929@yahoo.com

Operating hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. 

The store is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

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