WEST OCEAN CITY — In time for the holidays, Park Place Jewelers has hired a custom jewelry designer skilled in the latest advancements in design technology to fabricate one-of-a-kind pieces.
Owners Todd and Jill Ferrante saw the need to bring in Christine Garna Mathews as the popularity in custom-made jewelry has risen in recent years in the industry as well as at their two locations — on the Boardwalk inside the Park Place Hotel and the White Marlin Mall in West Ocean City.
“The biggest benefit is it gives us a new dynamic to be able to design to people’s individual tastes and artistic ideas that they may not be able to find or see in other places. It’s an opportunity to create something personal and something that is meaningful for them,” said Todd Ferrante. “I really look forward to what these custom offerings will bring to our customers. Jewelry is generational and a lot of times the styles worn by people’s grandparents at the time are not necessarily what people want to wear today. That doesn’t mean you can’t utilize some of that same jewelry and be creative and put something into a style that you like so you can wear it and enjoy it, knowing it was worn by them.”
A native of California, Mathews is driven by diversity and creativity and has made pieces for a number of Hollywood names, such as Terrence Howard, Jane Fonda and Sharon Stone. Mathews first started her career working with silver then had a prestigious apprenticeship that allowed her to hone skills in goldsmithing, stone settling, fabrication and hand engraving. She then learned more about hand fabrication techniques through obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in jewelry from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia where she had formal design training and learned computer-aided design technology.
“We are going to design and create unique pieces for people, along with the great repair work that they’ve been doing all these years here. We are going to add a new element of special order designs, covering the whole range from expensive to very inexpensive,” Mathews said. “Someone can bring in a little stone that their grandmother gave them and they want to modernize it or just put in a new setting. We are able to create that and it will be a neat thing to bring new possibilities for the customer.”
Mathews is excited for the opportunity to work with customers on custom work this holiday season.
“I will be used as an expert. When a client has expressed that they would like to talk about a special design, the sales associate will speak with them until there is a level where new information is needed to be effective. Both the sales associate and myself will be connected with the client but in a slightly different way than the average situation encountered in a regular jewelry store. It will be really expanding the services and offerings,” Mathews said. “We will continue to grow it over time as we all get more comfortable with everything. I look forward to working with our other jeweler here so he is not so pressured. We have different experiences and different viewpoints and specialties that together should work very well together.”
Ferrante added, “Christine is a very talented person and it’s going to be great for a customer to be able to walk into our store and say ‘I have this idea, I want to create something’ and then she can sit down with you and sketch it out and then give you an actual visual. It’s a unique opportunity and we are excited to offer it so people can create one-of-a-kind pieces. It’s a great attribute for us.”