PEORIA – Gov. Rod Blagojevich might deny selling the state’s U. S. Senate seat, but “Al the Jeweler” is hopeful the public will want to buy plenty from him.
Brad Pettet, owner of Pettet Jewelry Designs in Peoria, is selling three-quarter-inch tall charms for necklaces and bracelets shaped as a U.S. Senate seat.
“The whole point of this is to have a little bit of fun,” Pettet said Tuesday. “People say they are embarrassed to be from Illinois. I’m not embarrassed. It’s Chicago politics. You ought to be used to it by now.”
Pettet is selling the charms in three forms: sterling silver for $35 each, 14-karat gold for $175, and in platinum, which will go at market prices.
Proceeds from the sales are being referred to as “donations,” which will go toward the Al the Jeweler’s retirement fund, Pettet said.
Pettet, who turns 60 in February, said he came up with idea of the unique charms after he saw an advertisement before Christmas simply stating, “We Sell Everything but Senate Seats.”
This got Pettet thinking, and on Christmas Day, he came up with the idea of selling a Senate seat charm.
On Friday, Pettet returned to work and started on his idea. A jewelry craftsman for 25 years, Pettet designed the chair, but the first rendition didn’t look so much like a Senate seat as it did a bar stool.
After some refinement, a more visually accurate Senate seat was created out of wax. He has several of the wax creations at the jewelry store; they are no bigger than a “Monopoly” game piece.
With the prototype design completed, Pettet said he was ready to mass produce the charms. He was unsure how many he would sell in the coming days, but he has the capability to make five to 10 charms from each mold.
“One caller said, ‘Will you limit it to 100 pieces?’” said Pettet, describing the callers’ reference to the U.S. Senate’s 100 seats. “I said, ‘No, this is Illinois politics. We can oversell.’”
On Friday, employee Charity Schierer took three orders for the charms to be done in silver. One call came from Canada. Another was from a radio station in St. Louis wanting more information.
And what if U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald finds out Pettet is selling Senate seats?
“I could be in big trouble,” he joked, adding that some of the proceeds could go to a local charity. “But I will be collecting sales tax on each one of these.”
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