At Wear Ever Jewelry Gallery and Studio School, Jennifer Jordan Park sells her own creations alongside those of makers from across the country, and in a cozy workshop in the back of the boutique, you can do more than merely admire the trove of precious metals and gems. You can create your own designs, too.
The store, on Alexandria’s storied King Street, offers courses ranging from metalsmithing to drop-in studio sessions. But according to Park, her most popular offering is the beginner-level couples ring-making class, which she invited me to visit on a recent Saturday afternoon.
Attendees make their own rings, custom-fit to their finger and embossed in one of several patterns. Various tools are used in a methodical process repeated until students have molded their small, rectangular piece of unremarkable metal into a shiny, beautiful band.
At first, some people who sign up for the ring-making sessions don’t understand that the classes are completely hands-on.
“They might not ‘get’ that they would be using hammers and saws,” Park says. “I think they think maybe it’s all done on a computer.”
Far from it. Attendees spend their sessions learning the basics of soldering, sawing, and general metalsmithing, activities that a brand-new jewelry maker might feel are beyond their skill level.
Only a handful of couples can sign up for each session, which allows Park and an assistant to provide personal attention to guests. The classes are roughly three hours long, with enough downtime built in so you don’t feel rushed.
Despite some equipment that is fairly intimidating at first glance, the tools are generally easy for a novice to use. Most are common enough, like hammers and cutters. But some are much less likely to be found around the house, such as an embossing press and gas torches, which are used to heat up the rings to help with the sizing process.
“Ninety-eight percent of [attendees] will use the torch, even though they might be a little hesitant,” says Park.
Incorporating an interactive workshop just beyond the array of glistening ooh-and-ahh-worthy jewelry display cases was a natural fit for Park, who says she had seen the model during her travels.
“People who make jewelry often like to buy it … and are pretty fascinated with how it’s made,” she