Hamed Shirzad didn’t start out a decade ago planning on becoming a jeweler.
Sitting behind the counter of his jewelry store and shop in downtown Kirkland on a recent afternoon, the 26-year-old joked that in Persian families, children are expected to be a doctor, lawyer or homeless. But Shirzad said he was attracted to the arts, and while exploring careers in both the arts and medicine, he discovered jewelry and fell in love with it.
“I took a jewelry class and I absolutely loved it,” he said.
Working with precious gems runs in the Shirzad family as his father is a retired jeweler. As Shirzad began developing his craft, his father taught him how to forge jewelry in the Persian tradition. Shirzad has worked at Blue Nile and traveled to Dubai, Iran, Belgium and Bangkok to find what he thinks are the best gems for his clients.
Shirzad Fine Jewelry, located at 200 Central Way in downtown Kirkland, is a modest storefront that houses a diverse array of gems worked into gold, silver and platinum. Shirzad said most of the items in the store are handmade onsite, with a selection of imported goods.
Opening a safe, he pulls out intricate drawings of pieces he has designed. These highly detailed blueprints range from bracelets to wedding rings and earrings. He also offers engagement photography as a service to customers who purchase a ring through him. The onsite shop offers a unique character to his business, he said.
“A lot of people like the handmade aspect of it,” he said.
While diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds are the main gems Shirzad works with, he also offers services for semi-precious stones in an attempt to make his store and work more accessible to the broader community. Customers can also watch him work, which Shirzad views as important.
“I have to bring fun back to jewelry,” he said.
Shirzad has held pouring parties at previous locations during which people would come in, drink some wine and pour molten gold into a cast for their own pieces.
Shirzad runs the store with Venetia Small. They recently relocated from downtown Seattle to Kirkland. Both said they like the space and hope to stay in the city.
“We’re really excited to be on the Eastside because of the size of the community,” Small said.
The store already has a good working relationship with other jewelry businesses in the area, which Shirzad is happy with.
Their current storefront will be short-lived since the building they’re housed in is scheduled to be demolished and redeveloped in coming years, but Shirzad said they have already been offered a spot in the new building. Even if that falls through, Shirzad is committed to sticking around the area.
“We’re going to stay in Kirkland,” he said.