with a teaching background (her credentials include a
bachelorís degree in art education from Mount Mary
University, a Master of Fine Arts from UW-Milwaukee and
years spent teaching at the collegiate level), Mary
Seramur, owner of East Towne Jewelers, is not only an
experienced jewelry designer, but a patient educator ó
and one who works closely with each client to ensure
their desired vision is achieved. Here the Milwaukee
native talks jewelry design, philanthropy and more.
You specialize in
designing custom pieces as well as repurposing existing jewelry. Tell us
a bit about your approach and process.
Iím intrigued by craftsmanship because I know how much it takes to do it
right. Women will come in (to the store), and theyíll go, ďDoes this
look like me?Ē And then we talk about it. You find that happening a lot.
They get a bad taste in their mouth (from another experience), and Iíll
say, ďI will hold your hand through this process. Letís do it right this
time. Letís take those beautiful stones and make it into exactly what
youíre looking for.Ē Even if we just need to tweak what they already
have to make them happier.
With repurposing, thereís such energy in the jewelry that, letís say,
grandma wore changing diapers, baking cookies and scrubbing floors.
There are times when I pick up a ring and say, ďWhoa, tell me her
story.Ē You can feel the energy. People think Iím nuts when I say that,
but I really believe that. It really makes it easier to repurpose the
piece into something new ó to take all those good energies and put them
into a new piece the next person can wear.
What is your favorite
gemstone to work with?
My favorite diamond is a traditional emerald cut. I also love really
intense, blue sapphires. (Sapphire) is my birthstone.
East Towne Jewelers
is located in Mequon. What are your go-to restaurants nearby?
If I really, really want a treat, Iíll go to Mr. Bís (ó A Bartolotta
Steakhouse). That place is fabulous. I also love The Cheel. That couple
(owners and husband/wife duo Jesse and Barkha Daily) really knows what
itís all about. They are so gregarious and so talented.
You regularly work
with Advocates of Ozaukee, a local nonprofit working to end domestic and
sexual violence. How did that partnership come about?
will bring me costume jewelry (to donate). Sometimes Iíll get bags of
it. I spend a lot of time cleaning up the pieces, making sure earrings
have backs on them and such, and then bag and box them up. There were
(more than) 170 bracelets in this last box. I called Barbara Fischer
from Advocates of Ozaukee, and she came to pick up the box. Ö The pieces
then go to a local shelter, where kids can go pick out a piece of
jewelry, wrap it up, then give it to their mom for Christmas (or another
holiday). It might be some goofy, flea market jewelry, but sheíll never
forget it. They come (to the shelter) with nothing. Ö Itís an anonymous
donation; Iím not looking for any credit for it. I just want this to be
something that will make someone happy. Ö People like that (and in those
situations) need a little joy in their lives.