AN APPRECIATION FOR GEMSTONES AND DINOSAUR BONES IS A WHIPPLE FAMILY TRADITION. AT AGE 5, KEN WHIPPLE FELL IN LOVE WITH GEMS THANKS TO HIS GRANDPA, MAX PEACOCK, WHO TOOK KEN, “INTO THE DESERT LOOKING FOR ROCKS.” KEN BEGAN MAKING JEWELRY AT A YOUNG AGE, WHEN HIS GRANDPA, “GOT [HIM] INTO CUTTING ROCKS.”
Ken, a Utah native, carved out his destiny at the age of 16. He came to the Park City Kimball Arts Festival in 1976 and decided that he would someday own a jewelry store on Main Street. He spent 17 years, “building skills and inventory,” before purchasing his store on Main Street in 1993. Nearly 15 years after Ken started Park City Jewelers, his son, Cole Whipple, began working in the shop.
“After spending a couple of years helping my dad around the shop, I found that there was something about it I enjoyed,” says Cole. That’s when Cole buckled down and found a computer-aided design (CAD) class. After learning to work with CAD, Cole became a partner in the business, explaining, “That is when I knew Park City Jewelers [was] the place for me. I love it here. Plus, I get to work with my dad each day and what could be better than that?
At Park City Jewelers, families are welcome. Ken and his wife, Jeanna, have 10 children and 14 grandchildren. Children of all ages are invited downstairs to the jewelry creation studio. Ken has “a bucket of geodes and will cut one in half for kids, just to see the light in their eyes when they look inside a new rock.”
Special treatment for children and families is just one of the ways Park City Jewelers sets themselves apart. The shop is renowned for its unique creations. “We offer people things that they have never seen,” says Ken. In addition to displays of jewelry crafted with dinosaur bones, meteorites, Megalodon teeth, and rare stones like Utah’s red emerald, Park City Jewelers does dozens of custom jobs a day. Ken beams while explaining that, “we pride ourselves on doing a killer job.”
Ken says that at Park City Jewelers, “We do the whole process; design the pieces, mix the metal, and cast the pieces. The basement is a manufac-turing shop.” Every creation purchased from Park City Jewelers comes with a lifetime manufacturing warranty.
Ken uses a handmade approach to jewelry, while Cole uses CAD to create pieces. Despite their different techniques, Ken and Cole share a favorite medium: dinosaur bone. Ken has been making dinosaur bone jewelry since he was a kid and enjoys, “cutting it to see the incredible cell structure.” Cole loves creating jewelry with dinosaur bones, Paraiba Tourmaline, or Watermelon Tourmaline, “which have a special place in his heart.”