Did you ever meet a woman who doesn’t love to adorn herself in fine jewelry? A female who would say “no, thank you” to sparkling diamond earrings, an exquisite pendant of colored gemstones, or a piece crafted out of 18-karat gold? Probably not. Highly unlikely. So when it comes to choosing a gift for your mother or spouse on her special day, jewelry is a logical choice. But a custom, one-of-a-kind piece could very well be the ultimate Mother’s Day gift—one that becomes an heirloom passed down from generation to generation.
Jewelry designer and goldsmith Mark Loren has created many pieces that not only dazzle the eye, but have sentimental value as well. In fact, one could easily say that his designs are in a league of their own—each one with its own bold personality. At the Mark Loren Design
gallery in Fort Myers, you’ll find a selection to choose from in the retail store, but you’ll also find Loren and his team of master craftsmen in the studio ready to create a personalized piece of jewelry befitting your mother.
Although Loren has met with numerous clients to design individual pieces, there’s one memorable moment as a goldsmith that he holds dear: the moment when he realized that doing work for clients didn’t mean it had to be creating something of extreme value with a gem or diamond, but it could be something sentimental.
“A woman came in and brought her mother in with her. She apologized and said it may be emotional. She wanted to have a pendant designed for her mother. She opened a box that contained a button about the size of a silver dollar,” he recalls.
“The woman’s grandmother and her family were rounded up in Amsterdam, sent on a train, and eventually landed in Auschwitz. Her grandmother’s parents were immediately separated, and later she was separated from her mother. As she was taken from her, her mother tore a button off of her coat and handed it to her. And she kept it. That’s all they had left of the woman’s grandmother.”
Loren pauses and then continues, “By this point, we were all crying. You could have a 15-carat diamond and it wouldn’t be as valuable as this button. We came up with a simple little sketch for the pendant that her mother could wear, with the button in the middle.”
For Loren, everyday things can be made precious. It just depends on the meaning we give to them, he points out. For example, a Mother’s Day gift could be more traditional and feature the woman’s birthstone or it could be a bit whimsical and designed round the thumbprints of her children.
Serving the Fort Myers area for 30 years, Mark Loren Designs has built a reputation as an independent jeweler with quality designs. “When you walk in the store, you will find fossils, cool things that guys appreciate,” he says. “It’s not just a regular jewelry store. We use a lot of unusual gemstones.”
Mark Loren Designs is nationally known for jewelry featuring rare gemstones, innovative diamond rings—including custom engagement rings and wedding bands—and signature Toe Touches (custom-fit locking diamond-and-gold toe rings), as well as hard-to-find estate watches and even ancient antiquities.
Other services include certified jewelry appraisals, five-point jewelry inspection and cleaning, diamond setting and recutting, consignment and estate jewelry sales, and watch repair and batteries.
When it comes to fixing a treasured piece of jewelry, Mark Loren has an expert jewelry repair service. Unknown to many, pieces are not always worked on in the shop where you take them. Oftentimes, Loren points out, the work is outsourced. Not a lot of people know this, he explains. However, at Mark Loren, all jewelry is worked on at the shop.
Once a customer asked if he could watch the work being done on his wife’s ring, as he wasn’t able to at another store. He was happily surprised when Loren agreed and brought him back to the studio to observe.
“There is no mystery about what’s going on in the back of the shop,” Loren says. “We are working with clients on the most sentimentally precious things they own. Our staff is trained to know to be on point and aware of this when someone comes in. We need to pay attention and handle with the utmost care.”
Loren is especially proud of his national award winners. Most recent is his trophy from the Spectrum Awards by the American Gem Trade Association, where he came out on top of 500 entries. He submitted five pieces, one of which was the prize winner.
“I do that so I can bring it back and show clients that it’s not just anyone working on your pieces, but award winners,” he says.
“We are really blessed. A lot of our clients come in, wanting to get something special for their girl or wife and take the time to ask me questions,” Loren says of his clientele. “They want to learn, and they’re not afraid to drop the coin for something special.”
Mark Loren Designs is located at 13351 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers; marklorendesigns.com; 239-482-4664.