We meet the maker behind Made by Marianne, Stockton-on-Tees’ unique handmade jewellery shop
Whether it’s clothes, jewellery or bags, you’ll know by now just how much we love to celebrate unusual, hand-crafted pieces – those fabulous finds, often from independent or vintage shops, that can turn an otherwise ordinary outfit into one with oodles of personality and flair.
As we mentioned in our Valentine’s Day gift ideas blog, one shop that we really like in our part of the world is handmade jewellery store Made by Marianne, one of a cluster of great independent retailers that are bringing colour, interest and shoppers back to Stockton-on-Tees’ handsome High Street and its surrounding lanes and alleys. In fact, our sister business, the retail consultancy CannyInsights.com, runs the @stocktonshops Twitter account, dedicated to championing all that’s great about Stockton’s town centre.
So, when we were last down in Stockton a week or so ago, we caught up with Marianne to find out more about her and her business. Even better, talented Stockton-based photographer Darren Mack was there as well, ready to capture Marianne and her shop in the best possible light!
It’s lovely to be down in Stockton again, Marianne! Can you begin by telling our readers a bit about yourself?
I’m originally from Norway, but I’ve lived in Stockton-on-Tees (the North East) for 23 years.
I’m a journalist by trade and met my husband Dave, who is a reporter with The Gazette in Middlesbrough, at a journalism course in Darlington in the late ’80s. We have two teenagers (Anita and Alex).
So what inspired you to create your own jewellery? It’s quite a change from journalism!
I love colour – and I’m a bit obsessed with colour coordinating. I love being able to make jewellery to match an outfit – that’s how I first started making jewellery as a hobby about five or six years ago.
I didn’t think there was a lot of colour on offer in high street jewellers. I also love working with and wearing gemstones. It’s amazing to think these beautiful gifts from Mother Nature have come out of the ground.
And where do you get the inspiration for your designs from, Marianne?
I only use genuine gemstones and pearls in my designs, so with my materials being natural, I tend to get most of my inspiration from nature. Mother Nature shows me how to put colours together. I might ask myself “Do beige and blue go together?” Visions of a sandy beach and blue sky and sea convince me that they do.
What about purple and green? Fields of heather or bluebells amongst green shrubs tell me they’re a perfect match. I also love using colours displayed by the Northern Lights. I tend to keep the designs fairly simple so that the beautiful gemstones speak for themselves.
Because I take most of my inspiration from nature, it’s nice to live and work in an area where you have the coast and lovely North York Moors a short drive away. Even the beautiful Lake District is reachable in an hour or so.
My problem sometimes is that I have too many ideas whizzing around my head so it can be difficult to concentrate on one thing at the time. The gemstones themselves often “dictate” a design. By looking at them – their colour, shape and cut – I can picture in my mind how I want the finished piece of jewellery to look.
We know there are a lot of jewellery shops out there – both the big names and lots of individual makers. What would you say makes Made By Marianne stand out?
Although I use quality pearls, gemstones and precious metals, my jewellery is affordable – so nobody is excluded from wearing it.
I also take commissions so people can come to me with a dress and ask me to make something to match it. I do commissions for bridal jewellery as well, and customers can also help design a special gift for a friend or family member.
I’ve also done a bit of painting in the past, and I’ve got some of my silk paintings and scarves on sale in my shop.
Sounds good! What have you got planned for the future then?
I want to make my jewellery accessible to more people. I enjoy doing fairs, fashion shows and other events, but I’m also happy to come to people’s work places or homes. Jewellery parties are quite popular and the host will get a gift and 10% of my takings on the night.
It’s also a way to raise money for charity as the host can choose to give the money to a favourite cause and use the gift as a raffle prize.
And apart from all those events, where can our readers find you?
People who live too far away to come to my shop might see pictures on my Facebook page or Twitter page (@gemsbymaz) of jewellery that they like, and can contact me if they want to order something. By following me on social media they can also stay informed about my latest creations and upcoming events I’m attending!
Great stuff! And you’ve got something exciting coming up for our Fashion & Style Directory readers too, haven’t you, Marianne?
Yes, I’m delighted to be providing the prize for your next competition!
I’ve made a necklace especially for the giveaway – which I think your readers will like – from cloudy quartz and silvery grey pearls, which gives it a lovely bold look and feel while still being neutral enough to go with lots of different colours and outfits. I particularly love the little hearts!
The necklace is about 19.5 inches (50 cm) long, with a sterling silver clasp, and would normally sell in my shop for £40. I hope your readers love it as much as I do!
I’m sure they will, Marianne – it’s gorgeous! Thank you!
Stay tuned – you only have to wait until tomorrow (Thursday 5 March) to find out what you need to do to enter our competition, so don’t go anywhere…
Thank you to Marianne for taking the time to chat, and to Darren for doing us proud with his lovely photographs. You can check out more of his work – including lots of gorgeous wedding photographs, and family and couples portraits – at darrenmack.co.uk.