Mary Green: finding meaning in jewelry
Mary Green no longer has the first piece of jewelry she designed. “I made earrings with cardstock and magic marker in sixth grade. I was so proud,” she laughed. “They disintegrated not long after.”
Jewelry has always been special to Mary, especially pieces her parents and grandmother gave her on special occasions.
When her grandmother passed away, Mary was able to select a piece of her jewelry, choosing a delicate gold cross studded with diamonds on a thin gold chain. “She wore it every day,” Mary said. “If I’m having a bad day or need a little help from above, I wear it.”
Other pieces have meaning, too, such as her mother’s wedding bands and her grandfather’s baby signet ring, sized to fit her own finger. “Things that remind you of the people who cared for you are priceless to me,” Green said.
Still, she didn’t consider jewelry as a career; the Cape grad majored in dietetics at University of Delaware, where unlimited food stations at the dining halls proved too tempting for the former hockey and tennis player. “There’s this thing called the freshman 15,” she laughed. “That got ahold of me, so I really got into nutrition and exercise.”
Emergency gallbladder surgery led to marriage to high school sweetheart Frank Green. “We dated in high school, and off and on after that. Then he moved to San Francisco,” she said. “When he found out I had surgery, he called to see how I was doing. We started talking again, and I went to visit him. I came home and said, ‘I’m moving.’ My mom said, ‘I always knew you were going to marry Frank Green!’”
In California, Mary started making beaded jewelry and created necklaces for her bridesmaids. She worked as a hospital catering supervisor but spent a lot of time planning events for nonprofits.
Her mother, local realtor Suzanne Landon, is a breast cancer survivor, she said. “I had done all the walks and rallied friends to do teams, so I thought I might as well make it a career.”
While searching nonprofit websites for a job, she stumbled upon a new purpose. “The joke is, I didn’t find a job, I found a cat,” Mary said. “I get tagged on Facebook if any cat needs a home. These are our children, so they’re spoiled. But if I brought another one home, I’d be served divorce papers!”
She and Frank, who works for a business that sells pre-engineered metal buildings, had been wanting to move back home. When a position within his company opened in Lewes, they jumped at the opportunity, and Mary landed her first nonprofit position managing events for Lower Delaware Autism Foundation.
After the foundation dissolved into Autism Delaware, Mary took a job with Beebe Healthcare as events coordinator before moving into the hospital’s marketing department a few years later.
With home life and career goals settled, Mary returned to jewelry.
As she followed jewelry designers and bloggers on Instagram, she kept asking herself, “Why can’t I do this?”
With coaching from fellow Cape grad Heidi Lowe at her Rehoboth gallery, Mary planned to create an online business to sell jewelers’ designs.
“Then I decided I wanted to design my own jewelry,” she said. “In the middle of the night I pulled my notebook out and sketched 10 to 15 pieces by the light of the TV.”
A freelance jeweler in New York City produces her work. “I send him designs and stones, and he takes it from there,” she said.
She sources stones online; favored gems include moonstone, quartz, agate, labradorite and blue chalcedony. “Design starts with the stones,” she said. “I thought I would do the design first and fit the stones in, but for me it’s been the opposite. I never knew how attracted I would be to earthy stones. Some agates have movement and color - some even look like a mountain range or forest. So I pair other stones with them that have the sparkle I love.”
The next step was coming up with a name for her business. “I wanted gold in the name because I’m a gold girl, and the name Gold by Green just came to me one day,” she said. “I liked having two colors in the name and the play on words.”
Mary creates one-of-a-kind pieces when a particular stone strikes her, and replicates designs with signature pieces, such as the Thomas and Trae rings, both named for close friends. She sold her first piece last summer to a friend who bought it for another friend who was fighting cancer.
“It was a super-special piece, especially considering my mother is a breast cancer survivor, so I was really honored she chose to give it to her friend,” Mary said.
A month later, she hosted a jewelry party at her home, inviting just friends and family. “One friend bought a necklace for her mom for her 50th wedding anniversary, a special occasion like when my grandmother bought me jewelry,” Mary said. “It was beyond my expectation that someone would buy something I designed for such a momentous occasion. It blew my mind.”
Now, Mary is working on building her inventory. “Seeing locals support locals has been really great,” Mary said. “I truly believe what you throw out into the universe comes back to you.”