Looking posh at a reasonable price — that’s the plan at Created Gems in the Siesta Key Village
By Jane Bartnett
“Big bling for little ching.”
That’s the slogan and the promise that Mark and Barbie Edwards make to their customers at Created Gems jewelry shop in the heart of Siesta Key Village.
A well-known landmark destination for the past 21 years, the Edwards’ shop is often filled with groups of visitors who enjoy discovering the well-priced and affordable jewelry items, many of which capture the tropical wonders of the gulf-coast waters. “We offer nautical and high fashion trend jewelry styles that are quite affordable,” said Mark. “Customers are drawn to our nautical jewelry. We help them to bring a part of their vacation home with them.”
Both Mark and Barbie genuinely enjoy interacting with their customers and those who leave with their treasures depart with a smile.
“It’s fun,” said Mark, explaining that he enjoys meeting visitors to the Key and discussing the hundreds of jewelry items in the store designed in silver and gold. There are earrings, charms, pendants, rings, watches, bracelets and necklaces for men and women. Many are adorned with opals, amethysts, marcasite, and the Edwards’ laboratory-created Spektralyte diamonds that are recognized by the American Gem Society.
A third-generation jeweler from Detroit, Mark began his career at his grandfather’s jewelry store in the Motor City. He went on to own and operate his own fine jewelry store in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills. It was there that he met his wife Barbie, a television host at WXYZ-TV, the ABC Detroit affiliate station. Barbie was also the editor and owner of Main Street Magazine, a Detroit-area small business publication.
In 1991 the couple married and she joined her husband in the Farmington Hills store. In 1995, Mark sold his Michigan business and the couple moved to the Phoenix region where their daughter was attending college. Barbie became a local radio talk show host on KXAM Radio in Scottsdale and Mark began working with chemists and engineers to develop the trademarked Spektralyte-created diamonds that are sold exclusively in the Created Gems store on Siesta Key.
His goal was to create affordable gems.
“They’re manufactured under laboratory conditions and then cut like a Tiffany diamond with 58 facets. They duplicate the visual properties of your finest quality and natural diamonds,” Mark said. “The gems are also permanent and D flawless in color and sold with a lifetime guarantee.”
On a trip to Sarasota in late 2001, they fell in love with the area. Strolling through Siesta Key Village, they spotted a vacancy sign on a storefront at 5212 Ocean Blvd. and decided to take the space.
Several months later they left Arizona, moved to Sarasota, and in early 2002 Created Gems opened its doors. Since then, thousands of customers have visited the busy and welcoming jewelry shop.
Walking through the small boutique, many visitors are drawn to the glittering sterling silver Siesta Key palm tree necklace. Made with the Spektralyte-created diamonds, it sells for $19.95. Other coastal-inspired items, such as a sterling silver “wave” pendant that glitters with opals and Spektralyte diamonds, retail for $29.95. In addition to their own designs, Created Gems also features silver and gold Alamea Hawaiian jewelry inspired by the natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.
The store’s back cases are reserved for the truly red carpet-worthy collection of Spektralyte diamond rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets set in 14K gold that retail in the hundreds of dollars.
“Many of our customers attend formal events and travel extensively,” said Barbie. “These are people who want to safely wear beautiful jewelry that reflects the newest fashion.”
Standing behind the case filled with Spektralyte jewelry, Barbie pointed out several designs of shimmering rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. A dazzling ring that could rival Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary engagement ring from Richard Burton was also among the Created Gems collection.
“We follow all the high-end trends. Many of our longtime Created Gems customers live in the Sarasota area and have been shopping here for years,” Barbie said. “Others first discovered Created Gems while visiting the Key and Sarasota from other parts of the U.S., Canada, England and Germany.”
She noted that when the producers of The Real Housewives of Dallas became aware of the Spektralyte creations, they purchased pieces for the popular Bravo reality show.
Mark stated that in order to distinguish a Spektralyte diamond from a natural diamond, a carbon test is required.
“We mount our jewelry in either 14K gold or platinum sterling silver and the result is a beautiful and extremely affordable piece. For a $20K-range look, our higher-end rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings retail in the hundreds of dollars.”