Designer Spotlight: Catherine Marion

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A brief story of what you do and why you do it.

I design my jewelry on a CAD program and work closely with my contractor to make sure the design is optimal from both a “design” point of view and a “construction” point of view. I personally select all the gemstones that go into my pieces. All my jewelry is handmade here in New York of 18K yellow gold. I love using colored gemstones as I am awed by what nature and God has created.

How did you get into jewelry design?

While working in the corporate field, I had three shifts of nannies. After the death of a daughter, I reevaluated my priorities and decided to pursue a career that I truly loved and that would allow me to spend more time with my two daughters (Jennifer and Emily-hence the name “jemily”)

What makes your collection unique?

My collection does not look like any other designer collection. I am not a “copyist” with a twist. I am not afraid to use color either. In one of my recently finished pieces, I used ombre purple sapphires and two shades of green tourmaline.

What are your inspirations?

My inspirations mostly come from architectural elements. I snap pictures with my camera phone when I see something that visually strikes me. Eventually, some of these pictures become all or part of a design. For example, my Fleur de Lis pendant was based on the the gold leaf fleur de lis iron working around Bryant Park. However, I added my own twist to the pendant by rotating the main element 4 times.

How are you making a difference in your life?

With my career change, I now have time to interact more with my children and to do a number of volunteer activities such as teaching religious education; mentoring; and helping out with battered women shelters.

What's something unusual about you that makes you “you”?

My persistence–if a retail store says they do not want to look at my samples, I make return visits. I have visited one retailer eight times with a “no” response on the first seven trips. On the eighth visit, he liked the samples enough to have his buyer look. She also liked them, but wasn't sure they were right for her customer. I plan on convincing her on my ninth….tenth…visit.

What's the biggest struggle in running your jewelry business like a business?

My biggest struggle is reaching the retail client and getting her to know who I am. Retail stores and the sales staff have loved the jewelry but I am an unknown to the retailers' clients. I have gotten good industry press and good coverage from bloggers and some regional magazine coverage. However, in order to get broader consumer magazine coverage, I am told I need to be in a Manhattan-area retailer….but to get these retailers to consider carrying my line, they want to see consumer magazine coverage.

About Catherine

After an extensive career as a corporate finance attorney with a major international law firm, I decided to pursue my passion for jewelry and design. I studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology where I received a degree in Jewelry Design in 2007. I started Jemily shortly thereafter.

Twitter: @friedcatandrat