Sporting a silver grey ponytail, a casual blue shirt and Levis, Chris Petersen has created a niche for himself on Main Street and he couldnâ??t be happier. While he isnâ??t trekking to Mumbai for diamonds, sailing or keeping bees (some of his past hobbies), he is still passionate about tinkering with gold and silver. His work space reflects a complex life. A single lamp focuses a bright light on bits of jewelry that will soon be morphed into new pieces – a stone here, ring there, part of a bracelet – all waiting for his nimble and patient fingers plus an armada of sharp needle nose pliers to work their magic.
â??Jewelry ties generations together,â? says Petersen as he reminiscences fondly about one of his most precious possessions – his grandfatherâ??s pocket watch.
It was his grandfather and father that got him started repairing watches in the late 60s.
â??I was failing out of UVA,â? laughs Petersen, â??and it was either the military or learn to repair watches…so my years in this business really started through the back door.â?
Chris may have had a rocky start to a career that has kept him busy for decades but by 1976 he opened up his own store, Petersenâ??s Jewelers, in Culpeper. He also served in the US Navy and heâ??s proud of the fact that in 1990 he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from UVA.
â??Psychology,â? he grins a broad smile… but it comes in handy as so many jewelry purchases are emotional.
Gold and Jewelry opened in 2012. In addition to jewelry, youâ??ll find clocks, watches and silver spoons and youâ??ll most likely find Chris on most days hunched over his work space with a jewelerâ??s eyepiece attached to his head.
â??Iâ??m lots more relaxed now,â? says Petersen who sported suits for years but now likes the Levis look.
Petersen feels no pressure to have a large inventory. His shop is small and the pieces that come through the door may be from estates or rediscovered items. Recycling may not be the word for it but Petersen focuses on reconditioning old pieces. His cases are filled with an assortment of delicate bracelets, rings and necklaces. They may look pricey but most are very affordable.
â??Iâ??ve got all the technical skills,â? says Petersen, â??and Iâ??ve learned a lot over the years about jewelry…I like to pass on tidbits to customers.â?
â??I enjoy being the expert and having all the answers.â?
Petersenâ??s eyes dance with energy as he hesitates for a second and then says, â??at this point in life, I thought I was going to be a grumpy old fart sitting in the corner but not so.â?
Chris will be the first to admit that his â??body is a wreck.â? Heâ??s scheduled for another hip replacement in the coming months but physical issues aside, heâ??s having â??a grand time.â?
Itâ??s very satisfying to work with your hands and itâ??s great to work with quality materials like real gold and silver.
He has no immediate plans but to keep on doing what heâ??s been doing for nearly 45 years – turning gold into memories and dreams.