DanvilleSanRamon.com

Living - February 16, 2007

This couple shines brightly in Danville

Jewelers named Citizens of the Year for their work to help others

by Jordan M. Doronila

The gem of individuality shines brightly at Christe James Fine Jewelry Works in Danville.

Sparkling diamonds. Glimmering gold. Earrings to die for.

Only the best - and what is unique - can be found at the store, proclaim shop owners Chris and James Edlund, winners of the 2006 Danville Area Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year award.

The couple was awarded the honor at the Installation Dinner earlier this month for their fundraising work that helps treat Parkinson's Disease and cancer. Approximately 200 people from the business community attended the event.

"It's pretty exciting," said Chris Edlund.

"It's nice to be recognized," said James Edlund. "It's nice to live in a small town."

"What you do does make a difference," added Chris Edlund. "There are a lot of good citizens."

The Edlunds, both in their 50s, hail from Washington. Chris studied English Literature at the University of Puget Sound, and James studied at the University of Washington. However, they did not meet in their home state. They became acquainted after moving to California.

They both said Washington had the bluest skies but that it rained plenty in Seattle. James went into the jewelry business through a family friend. As a result, he became a manufacturer representative.

"A family friend was in the business," he said. "The opportunity opened up."

Chris said she fell into the jewelry industry by being involved in it part-time during college. Eventually, she became a buyer.

"I liked it more than English literature," she said.

She moved to Berkeley because there was more opportunity, she said. Similarly, James moved to California due to his profession.

Chris and James met around 1978; however, they did not date until more than a dozen years later.

James proposed on a houseboat, and Chris designed her engagement ring, which has gone through several changes, she said. They married in 1994.

They also opened up Christe James Fine Jewelry Works on Hartz Avenue in 1994. Since then, with two children in college and two in high school from their blended family, their business still stands.

"We chose Danville," Chris said. "We enjoyed being part of the community. People trust you."

One of their rewarding experiences, they said, is being involved in selling jewelry to customers who are going through personal events, such as weddings and engagements.

"It's the most rewarding," said Chris. "It's the best part of the business."

They have also have seen young couples go through their second or third weddings.

"It's striving to have a relationship with customers," Chris added.

"You've got to treat customers like they are citizens of the year," added James. "You gotta be motivated by more than dollars."

James and Chris said they tailor jewelry for the individual customer's unique needs.

"We do design for a lot of people," she said. "I can't make a living any other way."

She says her design work sets her apart.

"How can you survive when everyone is doing the same thing?" she asked.

"Our customers want quality and unique pieces," added James, noting that their jewelry also comes from different parts of the world.

The Edlunds are involved in charity work, which led to their recognition by the Chamber. James serves on the board of directors of the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, and raises funds for the organization. Chris has been involved in volunteer work since 1991 with the American Cancer Society.

Chris is also vice chairwoman of economic affairs for the Chamber.

As the year continues, the couple plans to continue showcasing their fine treasures with Danville.

"We have had a good solid business for 13 years," said Chris.

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