JCK Asks…Jewelry Designer Petra Class



petra classThe German-born, Bay Area–dwelling designer has enviable taste in books, films, and, not surprisingly, colored stones

Jewelry designer Petra Class trained as a silversmith in her native Germany, but you’d swear in a previous life she was a painter. Her gallery of gemstones looks like an artist’s palette: cerulean-colored opals, ultramarine-hued lapis, viridian-green tourmalines, and more. Then there’s her choice of metal—rich 18k and 22k yellow gold—which outlines each stone like a gilded picture frame. Can you blame us for ­describing her pieces as works of art?

Age: 60

Number of years in the biz: 40

petra class green tourmaline ring
Mogul-cut 25 ct. green tourmaline ring on split band in 18k and 22k gold

Number of employees you oversee: Three.

Family and pets: Husband and adult son; my cat passed away of old age a year ago.

Describe your personal style: Elegant-funky.

First piece you ever designed: Seashell earring as a child; daisy chain.

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: All of them or none of them, depending on the day.

Best piece of advice you ever received: “Stay curious!”

Worst piece of advice: “Don’t do this!”

petra class pink tourmaline earrings
La Vie en Rose 62 cts. t.w. red tourmaline slice earrings in 18k and 22k gold

First job ever: As a middle school student stocking shelves at a craft supply store.

How did you get started designing jewelry? I loved my mom’s jewelry box; my favorite page in the encyclopedia had images of Tutankhamen’s mask and jewels; my grandfather’s garden in summer was full of flowers to weave into necklaces.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Who knows? I thought about dropping out of art school and joining a street theater troupe.

Favorite (or current favorite) gemstone: Tourmaline.

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: 22k gold disk ring.

Five items on your desk right now: My favorite hammer, my saw, a sheet of 22k gold, a tourmaline, and a piece of dark chocolate.

Five songs on your playlist: Bach Cello Suites, played by ­Pablo Casals; The Goldberg Variations, played by Glenn Gould; ­“Valerie,” Amy Winehouse; anything by Paganini; ­“Grandma’s Hands,” Bill Withers.

aikidoExercise regimen: Aikido practice three to four times a week; a couple of power walks by the beach or up the hill from my studio; and a run through the park after I was stuck in traffic too long.

What did you have for breakfast? Stone-cut oat porridge with yogurt and fruits.

potato chipsGuilty pleasure: Chocolate, peanuts, and potato chips.

Drink (daytime/evening): Fresh Meyer lemonade from my tree/a glass of red Burgundy with a nice dinner.

First website you check every day (not your own!): I try to stay away from the web if possible.

Scent: Musk.

How do you unwind? In the hammock in my garden, at Aikido practice, at a walk on the beach, or a hike in the redwoods.

mount tamalpaisA must-visit spot for anyone in the Bay Area: Mount ­Tamalpais [pictured] and the [observation] tower at the de Young ­Museum—the views are great.

Books you’re reading: Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon; Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald; and Decorated Skin by Karl Groning.

Book you’ve been meaning to get to: The Bhagavad Gita.

romy schneiderFavorite movie: Battleship Potemkin.

Who would play you in your life story? Romy Schneider [pictured].

Personal motto: “Ah, the beauty of it all!”

Top: Petra Class’ gold shortlink necklace with Tie pendant in 18k and 22k gold

(Chips: Chonass/iStock/Getty; Schneider: Everett; Aikido: Sanjeri/e+/Getty; Mount Tamalpais: Vilhelm Ajostrom/Moment Open/Getty; jewelry: Liz Harvey)