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GC FamilyFarm | Stops & Plugs | San Luis Obispo | Leaf Probably

The gold concept started when two Cal Poly students took a jewelry class for fun in the late ’60s. At the time, they had no idea what would become of their artistic passion project.

“My father studied history, his business partner studied architecture, so nothing to do with jewelry,” he said Aaron Gomez, who along with his brother eventually became co-owners of the beloved downtown SLO store. “They literally made jewelry at Cal Poly and [said]’Let’s try this as a company.'”

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  • Photo courtesy of Aaron Gomez
  • SALE TO GROUND Brothers and co-owners Aaron (left) and Devin (right) Gomez pose in front of their family-run business on Higuera Street, The Gold Concept, which closed on December 31, 2021 after 50 years in business.
  • Fifty years later this business was still thriving and family owned – but 2021 was the last year The Gold Concept was operational. Gomez, also a former member of the SLO City Council, announced late last year that the store was closing as his family pursues the creation of a sustainable farm. He said jewelry retail is no longer aligned with his values.

    “Permaculture and farms and being a land manager felt way more important to me than the world of retail jewelry,” he said.

    Gomez emphasized that there are ways to make jewelry mindfully.

    “I think we’re fortunate to have some small artisans here in San Luis so they can have control of that supply chain,” Gomez said.

    But over the years, he continued, it has become more difficult and less common to sustainably produce jewelry — particularly fine jewelry, which includes precious metals and gemstones that are often sourced in unethical ways.

    “We probably started making lab-grown diamonds five or six years ago because it’s a gentle way to get diamonds,” Gomez said. “They’re the same as natural diamonds, but you don’t have to deal with the mining process, you don’t have to deal with poor labor practices.”

    For a while, Gomez said, this was an uncommon practice and so was done on a small production scale. But as lab-grown diamonds became more popular, so did global manufacturers’ interest in their creation.

    “Now it’s untenable because you’re dealing with the same issues that you were dealing with in mining,” Gomez explained. “I just didn’t want to go through with it anymore.”

    Gomez added that running a business just isn’t as easy as it used to be.

    “My dad probably started this business in the Goldilocks jewelry zone,” Gomez said. “The entire downtown has changed since that era and obviously gold prices have gone up a lot and rental space has gone up a lot. You can’t be so carefree anymore [approach] as in his time. I think that goes for our whole city.”

    While the closure of The Gold Concept certainly marks the end of an era, Gomez and his family are just excited for their next venture into permaculture and farmsteading. The farm will be on family estates in the county and will be named GC family business.

    Gomez defines permaculture as “living in harmony with natural ecosystems through both lifestyle and land management choices” — in other words, it’s more than just a farm. Gomez said he has no plans to sell produce yet: He sees the farm primarily as a means of subsistence.

    “At some point we will think about doing a CSA [community supported agriculture box] As soon as the fruit trees come and we know what our annual crop yields are,” he said. “But I’m more interested in creating a space that helps other people.”

    As the old saying goes (sort of): sell a man your produce and he eats for a day, but teach a man to farm and he eats for a lifetime.

    “If [people] can come out and see a working demonstration of a particular technique,” Gomez said. “I think that would be more beneficial than we producing food to sell.”

    3C-REN (the three counties regional energy network)an energy conservation partnership spanning the Tri-County Central Coast announced a new partnership with Build a coalition for decarbonization called Switch is on. The aim of the campaign is to make it easier for residents to switch from gas to electric appliances. For more information on how to go electric and save money in the process, go to Δ

    Reach our associate Malea Martin at


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