Mary DeMarco - La Contessa

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Mary DeMarco - La Contessa

For the past 32 years, Mary DeMarco has stayed true to her passion of creating imaginative and unique handcrafted jewelry and gifts. Her love of antique jewelry, vintage furnishings and decorative objects is embodied in the artfully crafted pieces she makes for La Contessa.Each La Contessa design is completely handcrafted in the studio. First, a model is sculpted and then casted in lead-free pewter, a traditional metal that was used in early colonial times. The various items are then soldered and finished to create a multilayered, antique or vintage appearance. For the decorative touch, semiprecious stones such as Carnelian, Desert Jasper, and Mojave Green Turquoise are mixed with Austrian crystals to create a vibrant design. Much attention is paid to detail— turn a piece over and you’ll find a bee, a bird, or a flower or perhaps a pair of hands or a bird in a nest as the closure on a necklace. All of these original features distinguish La Contessa in the marketplace, and many customers often consider the designs timeless collectibles.After graduating from Towson State University in Baltimore, Maryland, with a degree in fine arts and then studying in Florence, Italy, Mary started her business with her husband, Buddy Wolfe, in 1986. Mary believes her artistic calling comes to her honestly from her grandfather, who was a jeweler and watchmaker in East Baltimore. The name La Contessa, which means “the countess” in Italian, is her way of honoring her Italian heritage. Mary finds inspiration from many sources, from traveling abroad, to visiting museums, to gardening, to cooking, to taking nature hikes.La Contessa recently moved its design studio and factory to the revitalized area of Clipper Mill, the site of an old foundry in Baltimore that was built in the late 1800s. The area has been converted into art studios and restaurants and has become a green community. “We also opened La Terra gift gallery to showcase our work,” said Mary. “It has an old-world appeal with its stone walls and archways. We also give tours of the artists community.” Mary said she feels that her own artistry is oftentimes fueled by ideals of family tradition and geographic history, and that she is coming full circle with the her creative designs.“At La Contessa, we pride ourselves on American made and being a locally owned business,” said Mary. “And we love to give back to the community.” La Contessa was host of a jewelry-making party for the Creative Alliance of Baltimore and the owners continuously make donations to local charities for fundraisers. Mary added, “With so many jobs lost to overseas companies, we can say we are still doing it here, in the U.S., with pride.”