Atlanta-based jewelry designer Mark Edge says his credo is to create jewelry that’s “very wearable…but different enough to get noticed.”
His customers, he says, are women who “aren’t afraid to make a statement with their accessories.” His work has dangled from the neck of Vanessa Williams, embellished the ears of Patti LaBelle, and graced the pages of magazines.
The designer — born in Birmingham, Ala., 28 years ago — was a mere 15 years old when he and his sister breezed through a five-day Indian jewelry design class one summer. After the class, his creativity flourished and soon enough, Edge was known as the boy at school with “jewelry for sale.” Besides, Edge says, what better way to avoid working in dad’s lumberyard?
By the time he was 16, mall craft shows and three local stores displayed his talent. After graduating high school, he increased the size of his line and began a serious business. Five years ago, he moved to Atlanta, which he calls the “Southern New York,” because he knew it would be a better place to increase his following.
Ambitions aside, Edge claims he doesn’t want to become a mass-producer. “I’m not about having a machine spit out earrings, I’m about producing a handmade product.” He joined Linda Ambrosia’s showroom at the Atlanta Apparel Mart a little over a year ago and has since almost doubled his sales. Sales from Atlanta’s spring market topped $12,000. He said market sales account for about half of his earnings, while the remainder is done on the road.
He does his designing at his Buckhead studio, where he focuses solely on earrings and necklaces. “I’ve found that’s what sells, but I’ll do anything on request.”
Over 250 stores carry his line including Rexer Parkes, Atlanta; The Sandpiper, Vining, Ga.; Laura Kathryn, Birmingham, Ala.; Raphaels, Mobile, Ala., and Ellie, Winter Park, Fla. His wholesale prices range from $9 to $23 dollars, with the average price at $18.
While the typical Edge style has been on the clunky yet classy side, his newest collection is different.
“I’m going forward with my designs,” he says. The latest pieces are more subtle, lighter and more intricate. There are earrings made from soft silver wiring wrapped around beads of all colors and patterns, small hoop-like earrings with drops of color, and funky, antique-like beaded necklaces with and without crosses.
“Women are tired of huge, heavy earrings tugging at their ears,” he says.
He calls himself a hands-on designer. “I don’t sketch or draw. I just sit down and play and let the stones, beads and wire inspire me.”
Edge is among the 100 local celebrities, including the likes of Ru Paul, Ted Turner and Jane Fonda, chosen to decorate Levi’s denim jacket for the DIFFA Collection. The fashion show and auction, benefiting AIDS organizations, will be held April 24 at the Apparel Mart. He also helps out each year with the PALS benefit, designing ornate dog collars for a “rubbing noses event.”
Edge feels that designing for dogs and jackets justifies the claim that his creations are more than just jewelry. “It’s as much about art as it is about accessories.”