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Bethesda’s O’Rourke Jewelers Calling It Quits

By Aaron Kraut

Thursday - 1/23/2014, 5:25pm  ET

Katherine Graf, president of O'Rourke Ltd. Jewelers, in her store on Thursday O'Rourke Ltd. Jewelers will close after 47 years on Norfolk Avenue O'Rourke Ltd. Jewelers will close after 47 years on Norfolk Avenue

After 47 years and plenty of pearl necklaces sold, a longtime jeweler is calling it quits in Woodmont Triangle.

O’Rourke Ltd. Jewelers, in the same 7950 Norfolk Ave. space since 1968, will close on Jan. 31 as president and second-generation family owner Katherine Graf heads to retirement.

For what’s one of Bethesda’s longest-tenured businesses, it’s a bittersweet event.

“We’ve seen Bethesda change a lot,” Graf said. “We probably have the best customers in the world and I’m sad to see it go, but it’s time.”

Graf took over the store from her parents. Her mom died in 2012 at the age of 95. Graf would pick her up every day and bring her to the store.

“I wanted her to have that experience because she really enjoyed it,” Graf said. “When she passed away, I thought this was the right time.”

As you might’ve guessed, longtime customers have been flooding the store in recent weeks to reminisce. It was known for its pearls and repairs.

On Saturday — the last Saturday the store will be open — Graf will host a reception to celebrate.

“It’s been wonderful. It’s like a little community and it has changed a lot. People who lived here, had kids, moved out and came back,” Graf said. “The small business experience for us has been really fantastic.”