CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Petit Jewelry Designs doesn't have any sophisticated equipment. It doesn't design jewelry pieces using modern or urbane methods.
Instead, owner Scott Petit prefers to use an ancient practice dating back thousands of years, also known as lost-wax casting, to custom make pieces for his customers. He uses a kiln, crucible and a centrifuge -- three pieces of equipment needed for casting.
The shop, located at the Bridge Road Shops, has specialized in fine jewelry since its inception in October 2001. They are known for their custom-made jewelry, in which they turn a vision into reality.
"A customer walks in here and tells me what they want. I or the customer will draw a picture of what exactly they want their piece to look like," Petit said. "It is somewhat difficult to translate the customers' vision into an actual piece but we make it happen."
The 45-year-old married father of three does make it happen. He's done it for nearly 25 years -- 12 years as owner of Petit Jewelry Designs and the remaining time at other jewelers in Charleston and Lexington, Ky.
The Kentucky native began working in the jewelry business while studying at the University of Kentucky. He worked part-time in a Lexington jewelry store, which was owned by a family friend.
While at UK, he switched his major from art to business.
Considering his passion for both disciplines, it seems as if Petit got the best of both worlds when he opened up his shop in 2001.
"I had always dreamt of opening my own store," Petit said. "I've kept drawings throughout the years of jewelry pieces I hoped to make someday."
Petit opened his shop with the hope of attracting customers with his unique jewelry designs. He began by stocking his shelves with jewelry that would not ordinarily be seen in West Virginia -- these items consisted of sterling silver pieces from Nepal, as well as Australian-made jewelry.
Petit doesn't go it alone, though. He works alongside partner Michael Childers. Childers worked with Petit at one of the Charleston jewelers before joining him a year later.
"Scott is the brains of this operation," Childers laughed. "I do most of the work. We take a design and I have to figure out how to bring it to life. It is sometimes a challenge but it's fun."
Childers' workstation is loaded with all sorts of gadgets, including an assortment of tools like magnifiers and drills. He knows where everything is, though.
The process of how they make jewelry is quite complicated. It's an undertaking in which the two men are skilled -- they know every step by heart.
To begin, Petit translates his paper designs into solid chunks of wax. The men use files and rotary tools to make the wax mock-ups look like the finished product.