MAIN STREET – This summer marks the 15th anniversary of Precious Metal Arts’ arrival on Main Street. The popular local boutique, owned and operated by Peter Solomon and Mary Edwards, specializes in custom jewelry, repair, and offers classes in jewelry making.
Solomon is the craftsman and creative genius, while Edwards, a jeweler herself, is the business mind.
“We had no marketing experience, but we wanted a place where people would walk by and see what we do,” Solomon said. “Santa Monica, the ‘Gem by the Sea,’ is the ideal location for the shop.”
“I think there is a preference in the Santa Monica community for locally owned business,” said Gary Gordon, Executive Director of the Main Street Business Improvement Association. “The owners are always there, they are very hands-on, and they love their store.”
While Solomon may call his store just “a humble local shop,” students, including a Saudi princess, travel from Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and Australia to take his hands-on jewelry-making classes. Each class is limited to six students, and provides individualized attention a student may not get at a community college or university.
Casting director Susan Bluestein has been taking weekend classes at Precious Metal Arts for the past seven years.
“I was looking for a creative outlet that was very different than what I do for a living and I love all kinds of jewelry,” said Bluestein. “All classes are open to complete beginners, and Peter patiently takes you through all the steps to finally finish and come away with a piece you have created.”
Solomon helped former student Chad Vanags create a custom wedding ring for his wife. The couple always stops in the store every time they walk down Main Street.
“I wanted to do some different, something unconventional,” said Vanags. “Peter helped me create a ring that captures my wife’s personality. People are always like, ‘Wow! You made this?’”
Solomon was serving with the Gemological Institute of America, an internationally renowned jewelry school, when he fell in love with teaching. A native of South Africa, Solomon studied under the master German goldsmith Uwe Koetter. Solomon has worked in both New York and downtown Los Angeles.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” said Solomon. “I get to teach students as well as continue my own career.”
Solomon says he gained more customers in need of jewelry repair once the recession hit in 2008.
“When the economy went south, people started having their jewelry repaired instead of buying more gold or diamonds,” said Solomon. “People also wear more brass, bronze, and silver now since gold has become more expensive.”
A local shop with a vibrant clientele made up of locals and tourists from around the world makes Precious Metal Arts the very definition of what Main Street is all about.