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February 6, 2018

Faces of Fauquier: Hard work routine for goldsmith

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Jim Driver grew up working with horses but learned jewelry repair after his father said, “You have to learn a trade.”
That’s the best way to learn the trade is sitting by someone that’s older. They know more tricks. There are a lot of tricks in doing jewelry repair work.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Bent over a workbench with torch in hand, he focuses on repairing a silver ring.

Jim Driver fixes and restores all types of jewelry in the back room of Warrenton Jewelers & Gifts.

A goldsmith for 43 years, Mr. Driver prefers precious, glittery gold, but he works frequently with silver, the more popular metal these days.

He likes gold because, “you can melt it down and reshape it. If you don’t like it, you can melt it down and start over.”

As a jeweler, Mr. Driver restores pieces, sets stones and resizes rings, among other tasks.

He grew up in the business. His dad worked as a watchmaker and manager of Ketterman’s Jewelers in Vienna more than 40 years. His maternal great grandfather and great uncles owned jewelry stores in Nebraska.

“I grew up in Fairfax. Education-wise, I had no desire to go to college,” Mr. Driver said. “I worked on a horse farm. After awhile my dad said, ‘You have to learn a trade.’

“I went to trade school once a week. Everybody else was working in copper. I brought in regular repair work from Fairfax Jewelers,” where he apprenticed.

Mr. Driver learned to go the extra mile with his work at a young age when he got a job at the high-end jewelry store, Bailey Banks & Biddle in Tysons Corner.

“I sat next to a master goldsmith. I learned a lot. That’s the best way to learn the trade is sitting by someone that’s older. They know more tricks. There are a lot of tricks in doing jewelry repair work.

“I do it out of pride. I get more pleasure out of doing it right the first time,” he added.

For about 33 years, he did repair work as a contractor for high-end chain jewelers and family-owned shops in Northern Virginia.

The fast-paced work gave him 30 to 50 jewelry repair jobs a day.

“I only took like three vacations in 33 years,” Mr. Driver said.

Looking for a slower pace, he and his wife Erin opened their own business, Warrenton Jewelers & Gifts in 2008.

Originally close to Sears in the Warrenton Village shopping center, they moved the store to the North Rock plaza near Harris Teeter three years ago.

“Being in the jewelry business with my dad, I had all the connections with vendors. We filled up the store in a month,” Mr. Driver said. “When you do good work, the work speaks for itself. The only way I got all the stores was the work was done on time, and it was good.”

Today he does repair work for Warrenton Jewelers, which he co-owns, Carter & Spence in Old Town and shops in Front Royal and Winchester.

In part, he got his work ethic from caring for horses, starting at age 9. Breeding, raising and racing Thoroughbreds remains one of his passions.

He and his wife moved to Warrenton about 20 years ago for the horse culture.

• Age
62

• Home
Broad Run

• Work
Goldsmith and co-owner of Warrenton Jewelers & Gifts, 2008 to present; contracts with Carter & Spence in Warrenton and jewelry stores in Front Royal and Winchester; Driver’s Jewelry Repair, 1984-2008; Ketterman’s Jewelers, 17 years; Bailey Banks & Biddle, five years; apprentice at Fairfax Jewelers, about three years.

• Why do you do the job?
Even after 43 years, I’ll come across something different. I always enjoy restoration of old jewelry. I get more pleasure out of doing it right. I needed to learn a trade and make a living. I enjoy making something look new again. I like to see people when they pick up the work, they are happy and smiling. At Christmas time, when I worked 12-14 hour days, you knew you were doing people’s presents and had to get them done.

• Family
Wife, Erin; children, Amanda, Jamie and Kendell; parents, Wayne and Eileen.

• Education
Trade school, B&C Jewelers in Alexandria, 1978-79; Robinson High School, 1974.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
20 years.

• Why do you live here?
Horses. Quiet. Your neighbor is a couple blocks away.

• How do you describe this county?
Quiet, simple. I live six miles from the store instead of spending three hours in traffic.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
Nothing. Hopefully it will stay like it is. Keep it quiet. It’s still country, farms.

• What do you do for fun?
Raise horses.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
The mountains. I love to take old Route 17. I take the back roads every time, Route 55 to 17. I’ll drive that before I take Interstate 66.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I hope it’s still the same. Hopefully I’ll still be here.

• Favorite TV show?
I like to watch the History Channel. We watch a lot of Netflix — “Boardwalk Empire.”

• Favorite movie?
I don’t have one.

• Favorite book?
I like to read my horse magazines.

• Favorite vacation spot?
Virginia Beach.

• Favorite food?
Steak and a baked potato.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
“Work when the other man is sleeping.” My dad’s boss told me that. That’s how you get ahead. I’ve been doing it ever since.

• Who’s your hero and why?
My dad’s boss, Richard Ketterman of Kettermans Jewelers. He had jewelry stores and racehorses. He was like my second father. I worked on his farm growing up.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
Buy a nice, good horse farm and horses. Pay off bills like everybody else. You could retire with that kind of money. Help my kids.

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Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at cbrown@fauquiernow.com, Don Del Rosso at don@fauquiernow.com or Editor Lou Emerson at LKE@FauquierNow.com.
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