Jeweler celebrates 20 years on Main Street
November 22, 2013
Ken Whipple visited the Kimball Arts Festival in 1978 and told his date he wanted to open a jewelry store. He said she laughed at him. More than 30 years later, Whipple is celebrating 20 years of making custom, handcrafted jewelry at Park City Jewelers on Main Street.
"A lot of people told me I couldn’t make a living out of art or making jewelry," Whipple said. "It seems to have worked out just fine."
Whipple said it all began when his grandfather used to take him out into the desert with Geiger counters to search for uranium when he was eight years old. Together, they would find other things like rocks and dinosaur bone fragments, which they would cut and polish. In high school and college, Whipple began to incorporate those rocks and stones into jewelry to sell.
He majored in business and minored in arts in college in preparation for opening his own jewelry store. Once he opened Park City Jewelers, he asked his grandmother for the recipe she used to make gingersnap cookies while he and his grandfather worked. Now he and his wife, Shauna, make those cookies for customers every day.
Whipple, his wife and their oldest son, Cole, own the store, and Cole is now designing and making jewelry like his father. Whipple said his favorite jewelry to create is inlay, which entails cutting stones and fitting them into gold mountings. The bestsellers at the store, however, are Cole’s favorite thing to make: the signature diamond snowflake pieces.
A new snowflake design is created every year, and Whipple said they design the snowflake using a computer, which is connected to a machine that creates molds. The molds are filled with silver or gold, and jewelry-makers at the shop handset every single diamond in the piece.
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"Almost everything we sell is made right here in the shop," Whipple said. "It used to take them a whole day to make a snowflake piece, but now they’ve got it down to three or four hours."
Whipple and his wife said they believe the secret to having been open on Main Street for 20 years is not only the handcrafted, local jewelry, but also great customer service.
He said every customer who walks in the store will have a unique experience as well as a lifetime warranty on whatever jewelry they purchase. The other secret to surviving, he said, is working on the jewelry whenever they can, including the days with few customers.
Shauna said she is proud to be able to tell those interested in the store that they sell everything from dinosaur bones to diamonds. They even sell red emeralds, which are only found in the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah. Every piece of jewelry made in the store is unique, and said they can even take customers’ old jewelry and turn it into something new.
Whipple, his wife and his son said they are grateful to loyal local customers and hope to continue to offer unique jewelry in Park City for years to come.
"I really want to tell our customers thank you for standing with us for so many years," Whipple said. "We hope they’ll stop by this weekend to celebrate 20 years on Main Street with us."
Park City Jewelers
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