Mark Loren Designs has been a fixture on McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers for nearly 40 years. However, many may not know the story of how Mark Loren became a designer or what has inspired him through the years.

Mark tells podcast host Jim Schaller that his interest in jewelry began in high school with a required art class, where metalwork and sculpture caught his interest. Teachers with jewelry skills and night classes also encouraged him. After he graduated from high school, he decided against pursuing a career as an eye surgeon to learn more about goldsmithing.

He moved to Southwest Florida when a retail jewelry store in Chicago he worked for opened a store in the then-new Bell Tower Shops. When the store was sold, Mark stayed in Southwest Florida to develop his own showroom. He and his team design about 60% of the inventory and the other 40% is designed by friends or consignments by clients.

His definition of precious and valuable changed about 30 years ago when a client brought a button from her mother’s coat, the only thing she had after being separated from her at Auschwitz during World War II. Mark incorporated the button into jewelry for her, launching his passion for creating meaningful pieces for clients.