Most of us know Mark Silver from either buying jewelry from him over the years or his generous work with local charities. On a personal level he has been involved with the Hotspots Holiday celebration since day one and donated around 30 pieces of jewelry for the silent auction, which raises money for the Pride Center at Equality Park. With the launch of a new jewelry company, Marco Designer Jewelry, we thought it was a good time to sit down with Mark to find out about how he got started in the jewelry business and more about his exciting new company geared toward gay men.
At what age did you realize you loved designing jewelry?
I always had a passion for the design of fine jewelry. I was blessed to have traveled to Europe quite often at a young age in my career. After walking through the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy and looking at the creativeness, I became captivated by gold and silver jewelry design. I was also fortunate to live in Milan, Italy for a time, which opened my eyes to the beauty of fine jewelry.
What made you take the leap from the fashion world to open your own jewelry store?
I was working as an apparel designer/merchandiser on 7th Ave in the garment center of New York City from 1977 to 1986. I worked for European import companies to increase their business dealings in the USA. My work consisted of traveling extensively to Italy, France and England for product development of fabrics and trends for the U.S. market. I continued to manufacture the clothing collections and work in Japan, India, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong. I was very fortunate that my talent in merchandising the fashion trends sold in major department stores, specialty boutiques and national chain stores. In 1986 I decided to leave the clothing industry taking the marketing knowledge I learned and the vision I naturally had to challenge the fine jewelry industry. My goal was to create designs that are classic, timeless and innovative, but most of all unique. I want all my pieces to reflect jewelry that are works of art.
What made you move from New York to South Florida?
In 1986 I opened my first showroom retail store in Greenwich Village and started selling my exclusive jewelry collection “Argenti” Designer Jewelers. It was in a great location with heavy foot traffic and I also had the opportunity to do custom work for Barneys New York. This all worked to help make my custom jewelry design a destination for unique one of kind affordable pieces.
In 1991 the Argenti NYC business was sold and I left New York City to find a better and healthier way of life. I opened Argenti in Plantation, Florida, Las Olas Riverfront and now in Lauderdale by the Sea—one of the most beautiful towns in Broward County.
You are now in Lauderdale by the Sea. How has that area been for Argenti?
In 2009, I opened the fourth Argenti showroom in Lauderdale by the Sea and it turned out to be an amazing town with a very diverse mix of locals and visitors. This flourishing location helped build the popularity of my LGBT product line.
I joined different business organizations networking my specialty in custom design jewelry and two years after I opened I had the good fortune (2011 to 2014) to become the President of the Lauderdale by the Sea Chamber of Commerce.
Do you repair jewelry?
Yes, absolutely. I repair all fine jewelry whether it’s gold, platinum or silver. I do it affordably with great care. It’s important for me to be courteous and respectful that someone entrusted me with a piece of jewelry to work on that may have been handed down from generation to generation. I am proud to say that I can make anything that is broken look like new again and have been successfully doing that for 32 years. I believe that client relationships in any business are very important and I make it a point to be nurturing and embracing with everyone that I have the opportunity to work with.
Why did you create Marco?
As a local business in Fort Lauderdale, I meet many men and women from around the world that have me design their wedding rings and personal jewelry. When gay marriage was legalized, I realized there was a demand for gay couples to have custom wedding rings. Men wanted me to design their rings according to personal specifications ranging from birthstones to heirloom family jewelry infused into the new designs. I realized how important this is and how gratifying it became for me. I focused on men’s wedding rings which I make with pride. It’s been several months that I have been working with Matt Myers, an extremely talented web designer who created the vision I had for MARCODesignerJeweler.com. I plan to advertise this web site nationally as a leading gay men’s custom jewelry designer.
MARCO was created on the platform to be very personal while using the internet as a vehicle to target the gay men’s custom wedding ring market. I will personally use skype as a tool to engage gay couples to have their involvement selecting their custom wedding rings. Two men that are to be wed should have a happy, memorable and loving experience when looking for their wedding rings. Many times clients ask me to integrate the inherited gold, gemstones and diamonds from the jewelry of their mom, dad or other relatives in their new rings. When completed these jewelry designs carry a dignity and emotional power like no other piece they own.
I have created an atmosphere that allows the process of designing custom rings to be a joyful experience. I am elated that the finished jewelry that I create is more than what my clients expected and all the Video Testimonials on MARCODesignerJeweler.com prove that. Now my intention is set to take this personal, relaxed and pleasurable experience and blend it with technology to expand it nationally.
Do I have to be rich to buy Marco Wedding Bands?
I have no price barriers with the jewelry I create for MARCODesignerJeweler.com. I adore when a client appreciates my exclusive design work. Every custom design comes with a very detailed free estimate of what it will cost to build that specific design. I spend a great deal of time and care on my free estimates so the consumer understands every component needed at a cost effective price from me. I treat the buyer the same way I would want to be treated keeping in mind what their specific budget is for the work to be done…and I make it happen. The bottom line is making my guest very happy and I am the man to design it affordably with long lasting quality.
Do you have payment plans?
My custom design jewelry that I create from a drawing will take between four to six weeks. There will be fittings during the interim build process. Clients initially would leave a good faith deposit when I begin the handmade wax model. Thereafter they can pay the balance at their convenience in segments or upon completion. I never installed a payment plan because I wouldn’t want anyone to be obligated to make payments at designated times. I like it better with “pay as you go” on your time and the balance to be paid when finished.
How does it work when you start a new design with a customer?
MARCO was created to focus on custom design jewelry and making the client very involved in the conceptual stages. I begin asking a lot of questions to get a feel for their ideas. What is your concept and do you have any vision in your mind of what you may like? My exclusive design book has hundreds of pictures to study and I leave them to review that. Typically after that there begins a sense of knowing what they want. Once we narrow the details and the pieces fit together I start drawing on paper the new jewelry design until it’s perfect and then once approved the process begins. Anything can be made, in any precious metal with any gemstone. If you have old jewelry that you just don’t wear anymore, I can use that old gold to make new modern designs and change your yellow gold into white gold. If a person doesn’t want a completely new piece of jewelry I will repair and modify all kinds of jewelry.
What does the future hold for Marco?
I am grateful to work with clients who come to my showroom location from around the world when visiting Fort Lauderdale. They trust me, the quality of my designs, honesty, affordable and reasonable pricing. The very best advertising I receive is steadily having been referred from my work. The future for MARCO will be to take my work out of the local arena. I will be able to collaborate on new ideas and concepts for one of kind unique pieces of jewelry for people that aren’t planning to visit Fort Lauderdale.
218 Commercial Blvd #103
Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida 33308