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About Roxanna, by Roxanna

I have a degree from the University of California at Berkeley in Art, doing watercolors, lithographs, and dolls for many years. It all came together for me when I discovered my passionate love of pearls. I never knew until I got into pearls that I am a designer. I consider myself a designer of pearls. I tell people I will do anything to show off a pearl. That is why so many of my designs are pearls with pearls. I love mixing all kinds of pearls.

"Pearls for the People" By Yovanna Bieberich, Argus-Courier Staff

Jewelry-maker Roxanna Marinak loves pearls and feels they should be affordable for everyone

Watercolor By RoxannaThousands of years ago, it began as an insignificant speck inside an oyster, that over time, grows into a thing of beauty sought after by many. For centuries the pearl has been a prized and mysterious treasure, often affordable only by royalty and nobility. But today, with modern pearl farming or culturing of pearls, pearls are available for the first time for the common person.

"Pearls are classic," says Petaluman Roxanna Marinak, pearl jewelry designer and owner of One of a Kind by Roxanna. "They're a timeless little treasure."

Marinak has been designing pearl jewelry for only a short time, but already has cultivated a lucrative business with the philosophy of making pearls more accessible and affordable to everyday people.

"Pearls don't go down in value like gold," says Marinak. "They're always valuable. Right now wholesale pearls are very affordable, but for the longest time, most people could not afford real pearls. Even Jackie O's pearls were simulated. The pearls I sell are real and affordable. I have something for every price range. I like to say that I'm providing pearls for the people."

Marinak fell into jewelry design after a friend gave her a bracelet with various beads and pearls. She immediately became interested and decided to try to making her own bracelets. "I made a few for myself, but then all my friends wanted one, so I started making and selling them for $7," says Marinak. "Eventually I went to trade shows and met with pearl vendors. I fell in love with pearls. People are so used to seeing the same old white strand of pearls, but there's so much more to them than that. They come in so many colors and shapes; I discovered there was lots of potential for pearl jewelry design."

Armed with little more than a creative eye and a passion for the iridescent orbs, Marinak began making jewelry. I've never taken a jewelry class. I've just been learning as I go. The designing comes naturally to me. I have an eye for it. I've done beading before, but there's just something about pearls I connect with; I have a thing for them."

Her pearl creations include a vast assortment of pearl bracelets, earrings and necklaces ranging from classic to snazzy and from South Sea pearls to prized black Tahitians. The pearls come in a variety of shapes and sizes from coin pearls to drop shaped and in nearly every color. She often combines the pearls with gems and beads to enhance the beauty of the pearl jewelry. "My focus is on pearls," adds Marinak. "But I use crystals in particular to show off the pearls."
Even though Marinak can often be seen strolling about town in her pearls, she says that she doesn't keep much of the jewelry for herself. "Once I've made a piece, I don't feel like I have to keep it," she says, although she admits to playing tennis with her pearls on.

"I find the most joy in making the jewelry and am thrilled when someone else appreciates what I've made. It feels good. There was one strand of pearls I particularly liked that an elderly lady wanted. She was so excited about it and said she'd been looking for a strand like it all her life. I told her I was glad it was going to a good home."
The kinds of pearls Marinak uses are freshwater pearls she purchases only from dealers she has built a rapport with and trusts. She adds that part of what makes freshwater pearls affordable is that there can be 20 to 30 pearls in a single oyster compared to one or two pearls in a saltwater oyster. "I'm very picky about the pearls I use," she says. "It's very difficult for me to order pearls from far away by mail. I'm a very visual person, so I have to see what I'm buying. I want to be sure I'm getting good quality pearls."

Though she's new to the pearl industry, Marinak has learned quickly about what to look for in a good pearl. She says pearls come in many different sizes starting from as small as one millimeter. "Most pearls sold in jewelry are four, five or six mm in size. The largest pearls are 12 to 14 mm and can sell for thousands of dollars a strand. The price goes up with size of the pearl."

As far as identifying good quality pearls, Marinak says that "beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. What appeals to one person may not to another. Things to look for include luster, inclusions or markings and the overall smoothness. The smoother and rounder the pearl, the more luster, and the less inclusions, the better quality pearl and the more expensive it will be."

Marinak shows her jewelry regularly at Markets (see Market Schedule). While Marinak's goal is to keep the business growing, she entertains no plans to open a shop or sell into stores or galleries. "I just think that with a store, there's so much overhead that I'd have to raise prices," she says. "I've steered away from galleries because of their markup. I want everyone to be able to enjoy pearls, so I want to keep pearls affordable to everyday people. These are pearls for the people."

(Marinak shows her pearls at the San Rafael Farmers' Market held at the Marin Civic Center from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays. For details or more information on One of a Kind by Roxanna, contact Roxanna Marinak at (415) 686-1003
(Contact staff writer Yovanna Bieberich by e-mail at ybieberich@arguscourier.com.)

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