To truly understand why Jewel Envy would be selling a candle made by a goldsmith you need to know more about Eric and so below is a tiny glimpse into his life story.
A childhood passion for collecting semi-precious gemstones, which included sparkly rocks found in gardens, led Petersen to a career and love affair with diamonds and fine jewellery. What’s interesting is that while doing research for his first major project while studying Jewellery Arts at George Brown College, he was surprised to find himself at the same gem show his mother had taken him to a decade prior, where she had bought him a skull pendant with a rose in its mouth, a symbolic gift that he keeps close to his heart. His older sister Lorinda, purchased some faceted peridot beads, the birthstone for August, and glued them into the eyes. And so began an extraordinary journey of love and loss, hopes and dreams and everything in between…
On his birthday in August of 2005, shortly before beginning school for jewellery studies, Petersen learned of his mother’s acute myeloid leukemia diagnosis. While in school and juggling long days and a long commute, he would visit his mother, Dorothy, in the hospital while she underwent chemotherapy treatments. He once brightened her day by hammering a bent ring of hers round again, and to her it was like he had worked magic. “How did you do that?!,” Dorothy exclaimed astonishingly.
The first piece of ‘real’ jewellery that Petersen made was a silver and copper pendant with a purple bezel-set cabochon amethyst. It was his mother’s favourite gemstone and one she had personally selected for the piece. Unfortunately she did not get to see it completed. Her battle with leukemia was short-lived and on March 14th 2006, she died surrounded by her loved ones. Fortunately, due to a school strike and lockout, Petersen was able to be there by her side. Blessings in disguise.
After this relatively sudden and unexpected loss, Petersen opted to drop out of college, but he was encouraged by George Brown’s faculty to stay and continue his studies. It’s a good thing he did, and he’s forever grateful for the unwavering support and encouragement of his professor’s.
Included on the Dean’s Honour List and recipient of the Louis Frankian Diamond Jewellers award, Petersen graduated from Jewellery Arts, School of Fashion Studies at George Brown College and would go on to win two awards for Best In Design Innovation, as well as an Honorable Mention for his piece in the I.M.A.G.I.N.E. Peace Now exhibition, an initiative founded by American metal artist Boris Bally, to bring awareness to gun violence so prevalent in North America (an issue that Eric unfortunately has personal experience with). The exhibition travelled to galleries across the United States and Eric’s piece titled, ‘Pieces of Youth’, a hat-turned-handbag, garnered him praise from artist, activist and Obey Clothing company founder, Shepard Fairey, who served as a juror for the exhibition.
In 2009, shortly after returning from a month in Australia, Eric received a call that his friend and future business partner Adam, had been killed in a freak motorcycle accident. By this time Eric was no stranger to loss, he had recently buried a few murdered friends, however this was the tipping point that pushed him to the edge of his dreams. Petersen quit his job as a Dental Technician where he had been making dental appliances in a laboratory, he liquidated what assets he had, bought tools and materials looked towards his jewellery future. “The way I saw it was it was now up to me to realize the dreams that Adam and I both shared,” says Petersen.
In addition to his private jewellery practice, Petersen has given lectures and presentations to schools within the TDSB, DDSB, George Brown College and the 2013 annual SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) conference. His work has also supported charitable organizations such as Music Not Mischief, The Assaulted Women’s Helpline, The Canadian Cancer Society and the George Brown College Foundation.