Photo: Fred Lopez
A former police officer’s new job is a gem.
Sitting at a jeweler’s bench, Earll Bean looks through the lens of his magnifying visor and carefully saws tiny grooves into the surface of a meticulously crafted gold ring. For the next several hours, he will touch beautiful gemstones, pound metal into a desired shape, and use interesting tools such as a propane torch.
The bench is a favorite spot for Earll, who is immersed in an old and steadily fading art form—goldsmithing. The budding artist forges metal and gems into a variety of shapes and sizes to make rings, necklaces, charms, bracelets, and other wearable jewelry. Creating sublime jewelry for clients who appreciate its unmatched feel and look is a challenge he openly embraces.
“I love goldsmithing because you’re giving the customer a part of yourself,” says Earll, owner of Hooked Jewelry Designs in Leesburg. “I visualize what the final piece will look like and then have an opportunity to make it come to life. It is very rewarding to construct a piece from scratch that meets a client’s exact specifications.”
Earll became intrigued with goldsmithing 10 years ago while an officer with the Leesburg Police Department. During his lunch hour, he visited Jeff Clark, a master goldsmith who owned a jewelry shop at 2403 W. Main St. Jeff, the mentor, passed down his skills and closely guarded secrets to Earll, the apprentice.
Photo: Fred Lopez
“I gave him an assignment to make something out of copper and he made a beautiful ring,” Jeff says. “Once it was complete, I showed the ring to a fellow master goldsmith and he said Earll has wonderful hands. He did an incredible job.”
So incredible that Jeff recently handpicked Earll to inherit his business and continue his legacy. The timing was ideal for Earll, who retired last December after 30 years with LPD.
“Master goldsmiths like myself are very private when it comes to sharing our knowledge and skills,” Jeff says. “I’ve been doing this 42 years and have only taught three people outside my family. Sitting at a jeweler’s bench is a privilege.”
For goldsmiths, it is also a privilege to give back to the community. Earll donates some of his pieces to nonprofit organizations for auction at fundraisers.
“This profession is steeped in Christianity and I want to continue that tradition,” Earll says. “I enjoy using my talent to help people in need.”