Feature Friday – Mark Loren
Chicago native Mark Loren is not a jeweler, but an artist of one-of-a-kind pieces. His passion for the jewelry industry began back in high school, when he started making jewelry as a hobby. He enjoyed this art so much that he decided to attend Gem City College in Quincy, IL. At Gem City College, his knowledge for jewelry design, repair, engraving, and setting deepened. He then started watchmaking for Bulova. Afterwards, he was offered and accepted an apprenticeship with Frederick Prete Goldsmiths in Chicago. He worked at different Chicago retail jewelry stores until he moved to sunny Fort Myers, Florida in 1982, where he worked for Fey Jewelers. In 1984, Mark opened his own trade shop and began his custom jewelry design gallery in 1985.
Today Mark Loren Designs has a staff of thirteen. Mark has won numerous Spectrum, Platinum and Pearl awards. For years, Mark has created pieces that you will not see anywhere else. People usually bring him antiques, and he figures out what he can do with them to create a more eye catching piece. What he loves about the jewelry industry is the handcrafted nature of it, that he can draw something and turn it into a reality. Each design is unique and each one says “I love you” in a special way.
Mark is also a big philanthropist in his community. On occasion, he donates his designs to different charities, like the PACE girls, the Grande Dame, Love That Dress, Alzheimer Awareness and many more.
Mark’s work was published in “Masters: Gemstone’s – Major Works by Leading Jewelers” by Lark Books.
Here is some of Mark’s work:
These cool 14k yellow gold and sterling silver earrings were fabricated for an amazing Habitat for Humanity event in the Fort Myers area. Mark started with an outrageous pair of super iridescent Fireball pearls and added a new type of Stuller finding that is meant to be used differently for pearls. He countersank it into the pearl so the end wire of the earring would slip into the pearl. The pearls pop off so the wires can be threaded through the ears and then the pearls are popped back on. The top pieces are oxidized sterling silver set with diamonds and orange sapphires – a cool balance on the earrings.
This unusual crystal was chosen from his Gem Bar by one client. The customer wanted something different and artistic without looking too heavy. Mark hand fabricated this design adding some extra baguette emeralds and slight diamond accents. The beautiful crystal is composed of hexagonal small crystals. It’s a heavy piece.
Mark created these fishing lure earrings from real “Deceiver” lures. He cut off the barbs and laser welded the gold settings with trillion-shaped Amethyst. He added carved Pyrite skull beads to the top with the gold ear wires going through the beads into the head of the lure. They’re a bit creepy, but fun.
Mark found these amazing polyhedral agate slices from old, 1970’s stock in Tucson. They are the natural shape! He drilled through the edges of the agate with diamond drills and welded posts to the Stuller settings. He then added a touch of epoxy and put the wires reversed.
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