67 Pine St. | Ellsworth, Maine

Meet your Jeweler, Peter Farnsworth

Peter was born in Machias, Maine in 1955. His parents moved the family to Anaheim, California in 1958 and that is where he was raised and eventually where he met his wife, Leesa. Peter returned to Maine with Leesa in 2002 and both feel they should have been in Maine their whole lives!

Peter took his first (and only) jewelry making class as a senior in high school and the hand work resonated with him. Peter's father, Philip, was auto body all of his life, working at Ashmore's in Maine until the late 1950's, then in Anaheim, California. Peter loved going to work with his father at a very young age. He would hand Dad tools and ask too many questions. For Peter, the hands on approach to jewelry was akin to the hand work of auto body.

After his high school class, Peter began his first job – Jewels by Angelo in Downey, California. Jewels by Angelo was exclusively a manufacturing facility, exclusively producing Angelo Cardono's designs. That facility is still there today. When Peter first started with Angelo, he was not allowed to touch metal for the first three years. He became very adept at waxes and mold making for the lost wax casting process. His working position in the factory put him sitting next to the owner / master. Peter was privy to lots of secrets.

In the mid-1980's, Peter was discovered by John Latendresse, of the American Pearl Company in Tennessee. There he set up their manufacturing facility and ran it. Peter returned to California in the early 1990's setting up his own repair / custom jewelry making business, called Striking Gold. This, Peter feels, this is where most of his real education came into play, particularly with regard to repair, working on a huge volume of repair for several chain stores. Peter says, "You have nobody to lean on, and no one to bail you out of a mistake. And all too often management would say, Customer's waiting... are you done yet? I don't miss that demand at all. A human being can only produce so much by hand in an allotted amount of time."

Meet your Jeweler, Leesa Geer Farnsworth

Born in Hawaii (a Navy rat), raised in southern California, Leesa fell in love with jewelry young, as many girls do. Leesa dabbled in bead stringing and basic jewelry assembly for fun, but it wasn't until seeing the treasures recovered from the Spanish galleon "The Atocha", more specifically seeing the ancient jewels in amazing condition after spending centuries on the ocean floor, that she decided she wanted to hand build jewelry the way they did so long ago. Jewelry that would be built substantial enough to wear with just a little care and last for generations. It was then that Leesa signed up for her first GIA course, Pearl and Bead Stringing. She then took Pearl Identification and Grading.

Leesa then took a jewelry making course at a junior college and has been practicing jewelry ever since. She did not have the luxury of an apprenticeship, those went by the wayside decades before. She was, however, able to work with a few master jewelers, who from time to time, where so very generous to allow her into their shops to watch, learn and sometimes participate. She learned to carve waxes and cast metal as well as further her fabrication skills. She practiced her skills in her parents' garage, traveling to fine art shows all over California and Arizona for several years.

It is this shared love of jewelry making and the fabrication process that brought Peter and Leesa together.

Peter and Leesa started Striking Gold Jewelers in 2004. These days, Leesa runs the store and the office, while Peter runs the shop. Leesa does a tremendous amount of pearl and bead stringing / re-stringing for the store, but gets minimal time at her bench. Generally spring is the time she gets to spend a good amount of time at her bench, creating new stock / designs for the store. Her love of pearls and the rich tones of quality colored gemstones can be seen throughout their store in the pieces they create.