About Heather

Heather Maertens is the designer and driving force behind Penny James Jewelry Co.  Inspired by the area that she lovingly calls home, the Chesapeake Bay region, she creates pieces that are a tribute to the beautiful world around her.  Maertens believes that there is an emotional tie between jewelry and its wearer.  Jewelry is meant to evoke sentiment, to bring about a memory each time it is seen or worn.  Penny James jewelry tells stories of sunshine and sandy toes, lazy days and beautiful sunsets. 

Maertens studied art design and jewelry making from an early age through college where she was classically trained in jewelry design and fabrication.  Soon after graduation she began selling her signature designed jewelry to galleries along the East coast.  In 2002 she opened her own full service jewelry boutique, Maertens Fine Jewelry and Gifts in Solomons, Maryland.  Her store was a place to showcase her jewelry designs.  Her clients were very receptive, asking “what has Heather made recently?” and “what will she make next?”   Before she realized it, Maertens had an entire collection of her exclusive designs, it is those designs that have become the foundation of the Penny James collection.  

Our Process  

Whether it starts as a sketch or is handcrafted in metal every Penny James design begins at the hands of Heather Maertens.  With a lengthy background in the jewelry industry, Maertens knows jewelry and understands how it is created.  She not only sketches designs for her Penny James collection, she often makes the original.  

Maertens has a variety of skills in her arsenal that may be used to execute her vision.  She is a talented wax carver, a skill that lends itself well to creating her sculptural designs, such as the seahorse.  Using tools as simple as an exact-o knife and a block of wax Maertens will create a model version of her design.  The wax model then travels through the lost wax casting process.  The final result is a gleaming piece of finished jewelry, hand polished by Maertens, herself. 

Often Maertens skips the wax process and hand forges her creations in precious metal.  With traditional jewelry tools she expertly crafts each item until it becomes exactly what she envisioned, a beautiful piece of wearable art.  Maertens studied the art of jewelry design and manufacturing at Gem City College in Quincy, Illinois.  

Having an affinity for beautiful gemstones, Maertens hand picks each gem that is set in her jewelry designs.  Recent Penny pieces have incorporated gems such as one of a kind pearls, amazonite and glittering diamond accents.   

Penny James jewelry is well made and weighty, it feels good to the wearer.  They are truly versatile jewelry designs that go as perfectly with your favorite jeans as your prettiest cocktail dress!  Penny pieces are meant to last a lifetime and eventually become an heirloom. 

Inspired designs, quality craftsmanship and whimsical sophistication are trademarks of Penny James Jewelry co.  The Penny James collection is bold without being overwhelming.  Even the daintiest Penny piece makes a statement.  

All Penny James jewelry is handcrafted in precious metals, sterling silver, 14kt gold and set with high quality, genuine gemstones and diamonds.  We feel confident that you will be delighted with each piece of Penny James jewelry you purchase.