We Brought Our Mussels & Our Mermaids

It's crazy to think how, in just a few short years, our lives can change so much.  In early 2015, we had never heard of dragon boats and didn't know much about the families in our community who were struggling or how End Hunger in Calvert County was helping.  We had no idea that a fundraiser in North Beach would become so important to us and help us heal as a team, year after year.

Looking back at our first End Hunger Dragon Boat Festival, we seriously did not know what we were getting into.  When our captain, Kayla, pitched the idea, the initial response was "Wait... a boat costs WHAT??"  In her calm but assertive voice, Kayla explained the paddler fee breakdown and the unique opportunity to help thousands of people... suddenly that registration fee wasn't so intimidating.

We immediately got to work doing what we do best—picking fantastic nautical names for things we love—and Mussels & Mermaids was born!  The more details we got about this new festival, the more excited we got.  Decorating a tent, dressing someone up like a mermaid, and convincing the guys on the team to wear tiny sailor hats were all in our wheelhouse.  The energy around this event was electric and we couldn’t wait to be a part of it.

2015 Mussels & Mermaids Team Photo

2015 Mussels & Mermaids Team Photo

The day came and went.  We finished 11th overall but were already planning for next year’s races.  We focused on strategies to up our game across the board: keeping our paddlers in sync, using a nautical backdrop for the tent, painting “scales” on ourselves with stage makeup and fishnet stockings, creating a bodice out of shells… you know, normal athletic stuff.

Just when we were starting to plan for our team’s second year, we lost Kayla and her husband in a tragic accident.  This amazing person who was so passionate about rallying our small team to help our larger community was gone.  We paddled that year in our captain’s honor.  We finished 6th overall but Mussels & Mermaids was presented with the Hill Climber Award, recognizing the year’s challenges.

2016 Mussels & Mermaids Team Photo

2016 Mussels & Mermaids Team Photo

2017 was better.  We were healing as a family and coming together as a team.  2017 was our year.  We finished 1st overall and finally took home that trophy!

2017 Mussels & Mermaids Team Photo

2017 Mussels & Mermaids Team Photo

They say all good things must come to an end, however.  As much as we loved reigning as Dragon Boat champs, we know how hard it was to get here.  Any team who can rally their friends, raise the money, commit to practice, and spend all day paddling to beat out 32 other boats deserves that trophy.  We are honored to be a part of this unbelievable community that strives to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.  Kayla is why we started this and she’s a huge part of why we continue.  Setting an example of service is something we can all do… you never know who you’ll inspire.


2018 Mussels & Mermaids Team Photo

2018 Mussels & Mermaids Team Photo

The Brands of Summer

Okay, we’ve officially had enough warm weather that we’re calling it—Summer has begun!  Knowing that there was sunshine at the end of the snow-covered tunnel is what got us through this winter (and spring) and now we are ready to spend the next few months with our toes in the sand.  A new season means a new flood of exciting inventory at the store and we can’t wait to share some of our favorites to help you get summer-ready!



Spartina has been a longtime favorite for all of us at the store.  Whether it’s a tote for your carry-on or a wristlet for a quick shopping excursion, this brand does not disappoint when it comes to accessorizing your summer.  One standout this season is their poncho, which can be worn poolside or styled for an evening out.


This relatively new line from the Lombara mother-daughter team draws inspiration from the family’s love of the New England coast.  Their goal is to create quality, meaningful jewelry that can be passed down from generation to generation.  We’re so excited to start carrying these pieces, which are crafted in sterling silver and enamel right here in the United States.

Untitled design (6).png


Obviously, we love our Penny.  Heather hasn’t slowed down and has been busy growing the Penny James collection to include the Kayla Cross, Tree of Life, Sea Turtle, and Skipjack.  This line, inspired by personal experiences and living life on the Chesapeake Bay, holds so much meaning to us here at Maertens.  We invite you to stop by and find the piece that holds meaning for you.

Summer is our season!  Make it a point to stop by Maertens and stock up on seaside essentials!

My Kids Have Four Legs!

The next two Sundays are big ones for all of us here at the store-- first Mother's Day, then Breakfast at Sniffany's.  While brainstorming ideas for bringing the blog back and looking ahead on the calendar, the topic we absolutely had to cover was pretty obvious: Gifts for Dog Moms.  If you think about it, it's actually kind of crazy that we haven't blogged about this earlier.  Believe it or not, jewelry for dog moms is something that comes up relatively often.

Dog Jewelry 04.jpg


For more than ten years, Heather Maertens has been creating a special line of jewelry to celebrate our four-legged best friends.  Available in a variety of precious metals, these pendants, bracelets, charms, and earrings are the perfect gift for any pet mom in your life.  Bonus: Proceeds from our Puppy Love (pictured left) and Shelter Dog pieces benefit local animal welfare organizations!


Is there one particular pup who has left pawprints on your heart?  Stop by and tell us about your dog.  Let our pet-loving staff help you find a breed-specific charm or walk you through the process of crafting a special piece with your dog's actual pawprint impression.  Remember, Heather is also a hand engraver and can add your pet's name to just about anything.

Dog Jewelry 01.jpg
Spartina Jewelry 02.jpg


Jewelry for dog moms doesn't necessarily mean bones and fire hydrants.  Even our everday pieces can be a little more dog-friendly, expecially if there's a sweet new pup in your life.  Consider thicker bracelets, shorter necklaces, and stud earrings.  If your family's dog mom likes jewelry with gemstones, stay away from pieces with more delicate materials like pearls and opals.

Our staff is always happy to help you find the perfect gift for the mom in your life,
whether her kids have four legs or two!

The Finest Arts Festival in Southern Maryland

Hello again!  Long time no post, right?  We've had a crazy fun Summer here at the store... In just the past few months, our staff has traveled everywhere from New York to the Outer Banks to Cancun.  Heather's branded line (Penny James Jewelry Co.) has found homes in several new stores.  Plus, two of our employees got married and someone is expecting.  Needless to say, we've been a little busy!

And just when the dust begins to settle, it's time for ArtsFest! Heather has been participating in this juried art show since 2001 and debuts new handmade jewelry each year.  The pieces we've brought to sell at this fine arts festival have evolved over the years.  From fork bracelets to agate pendants to brightly colored freshwater pearl earrings, youre always sure to get a peek into Heathers creative mind if you seek us out at this weekend-long show.  Also, for the second year, our apprentice jeweler Mady has been crafting unique handmade jewelry to be featured at ArtsFest.

Heather makes mostly sterling silver jewelry for this event, although she typically does bring a few of her two-tone pieces from the store. Featuring designs inspired by life on the Chesapeake, the Penny James line (formerly known as the Maertens Exclusives Collection) has been an ArtsFest staple for us for years.  This year, Heather will be debuting not just new one-of-a-kind silver pieces but also the latest Penny James jewelry!

ArtsFest '15 will be held this Saturday, September 19th and Sunday, September 20th from 10am until 5pm.  Its a rain or shine event so were super excited to be inside the Murray Arts Building for the first time ever!  Find Heather and Mady at Booth #4 and stay tuned for some behind the scenes pics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Our 2015 Summer Jewelry Picks

It's July and Summer is in full swing!  This is one of our favorite times of year here at the store, not just because of warm weather and crab feasts, but also the fun bright jewelry that Summertime brings.  It's vacation season, too!  And if you haven't taken one yet, you're probably gearing up to spend a few days on a boat, beach, or boardwalk.  Below are some of our favorite pieces to bring along on your travels.


Most Marylanders take at least a weekend trip out to Ocean City at some point during the Summer.  We all have that friend with a condo or know someone's parents who have a camper and with the Atlantic Ocean so close, it's hard to resist an impromptu trip over the Bay Bridge.  One of our favorite lines for OC travel has got to be Kameleon Jewelry's Summer Love Collection.  Their new seaside bracelet reminds us of strolling down the boardwalk in a cute seersucker dress, listening to the seagulls and cooling off with an ice cream cone from Dumser's... but back to the blog... Kameleon's JewelPops are perfect for the vacationer who doesn't want to pack a lot of jewelry but wants to keep her options open.  Grab a pair of their stylish sunglasses, a necklace, bracelet, and earrings to wear on the car ride over and carry all your favorite pops in Kameleon's compact, tucked neatly in your bag.  Done and done!

The lighthouse pendant by Penny James Jewelry Co. is the perfect piece to wear while sightseeing in the Outer Banks!

The lighthouse pendant by Penny James Jewelry Co. is the perfect piece to wear while sightseeing in the Outer Banks!


It's just better in the Bahamas, right?  If you're hopping on a plane or ship to get to your dream vacation this Summer, you're going to want to accessorize with bright bold statement pieces that are both easy to pack and fun to wear.  Tagua necklaces, earrings, and bracelets by Encanto Jewels are only available during the Summer months at Maertens.  Every piece is expertly handcrafted using tagua seeds from the rainforests of Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil.  Not only does this jewelry look great with your favorite maxi dress, it's created through ethically and environmentally conscious business practices that support women throughout South America.  Talk about a win-win!  Another benefit to bringing tagua jewelry along on your travels is that it's not the end of the world if (Heaven forbid) a piece gets lost or damaged.  The line ranges from $18 to about $85 so it's easy to get a big look for a small price!

Kameleon Jewelry offers fun nautical JewelPops to fit into their line of silver jewelry and sunglasses!

Kameleon Jewelry offers fun nautical JewelPops to fit into their line of silver jewelry and sunglasses!



For a different set of beaches, many of us head down to Route 12 for some Outer Banks fun.  Whether you like the energized atmosphere of Kitty Hawk or the laid back scene in Buxton, OBX is where it's at for a beach vacation a little farther from home.  Something we especially love about the area is all of its lighthouses that are open to the public.  They're a huge part of the Outer Banks' maritime heritage and a neat way to work in a little history while on vacation.  The lighthouse pendant by Penny James Jewelry Co. is the perfect piece to wear on your OBX vaca... when in Rome, right?  Penny James is branded line of jewelry designed by our own Heather Maertens.  We carry it in the store and online!

Encanto Jewels Tagua pieces are only available at Maertens during the Summer months

Encanto Jewels Tagua pieces are only available at Maertens during the Summer months

Of course, even if you're going full stay-cation this Summer, these collections are perfect for accessorizing your warm weather wardrobe.  This is the best time of year to add a splash of color to your jewelry box without breaking the bank.  So before heading out of town, be sure to stop by the store.  We'd love to help you accessorize your beach attire or even just clean and check your jewelry so your vacation is as sparkly as possible!

A Day Gone to the Dogs

As you may know, everyone who works at Maertens is a dog lover.  We rescue dogs, bring our dogs to work, hold supply drives at the store… you get the idea.  One of our favorite events of the year has always been our Breakfast at Sniffany’s Brunch and Benefit Auction.  How can a day filled with pups and mimosas not come in a close second to Christmas??  Sniffany’s used to be an annual event that we held at our boutique on Solomons Island, but after moving the store up to Lusby, we weren’t really able to make it the big island brunch it had always been.  Long story short, after a five year hiatus, we brought Sniffany back in a big way.

Heather, Anjelica & Kim took a quick break for photos in front of our new Breakfast at Sniffany's banner, courtesy of  InkPug  and  Main Street Copy .

Heather, Anjelica & Kim took a quick break for photos in front of our new Breakfast at Sniffany's banner, courtesy of InkPug and Main Street Copy.

On Sunday, May 17th, dogs from across Southern Maryland convened at the Holiday Inn Select Solomons to raise funds for a good cause.  The 4th Annual Breakfast at Sniffany’s Brunch and Benefit Auction welcomed two- and four-legged guests with a breakfast buffet provided by Isaac’s Restaurant, dog treat buffet, and silent auction.  Breakfast at Sniffany’s was able to raise enough to give checks for $1,500 each to the Humane Society of Calvert County, Calvert Animal Welfare League, Patuxent Animal Welfare Society, and Sugar Faces Senior Dog Rescue.  These organizations were all represented at the event with dogs available for adoption. One of the most memorable parts of the day was when contestants came forward to be judged in the largest dog, smallest dog, best trick and best dressed competitions... we had everything from a 4 lb Chihuahua to a 170 lb Newfoundland represented!

After taking these few years off from Breakfast at Sniffany’s, it was so wonderful to see the community rally behind us to support these local rescue groups.  Most people we spoke to were so excited to hear that we were hosting it again and we cannot wait for our next event!  If you can't get enough super cute fluff, check out Sniffany's Facebook and Instagram pages for more event pics!

Kim's Chihuahua, Mia, was our tiniest dog of the day, weighing just 4lbs!

Kim's Chihuahua, Mia, was our tiniest dog of the day, weighing just 4lbs!

Why don't you have...?

Over the years, we've had our fair share of, "Why don't you have X, Y, Z designers?" The simple answer we give usually goes something like, "We just like to be different." While that's absolutely true, there's a little more to it.

The reason we still haven't jumped on the David Yurman, Rolex, Pandora, Alex + Ani bandwagons is because we're just not that type of store, to put it bluntly. Don't get me wrong, we love pretty much ALL jewelry and watches (that's why we work in this industry) but plenty of other stores already offer those lines. That's the kind of stores they are and that's what their customers want and that's awesome.

From the day we opened our doors almost thirteen years ago, we've wanted Maertens to be something different... a little treasure trove with jewelry that you just don't find anywhere else. You know that one shop you just have to go to when you're on vacation or need a pick me up? Well, that's what we're going for. We're creative... we're quirky... but most importantly, we're different. So that original short answer still works, but now you hopefully get a better idea of where it came from.

Introducing Penny James

Maertens Exclusives are now Penny James.

After years of happily creating jewelry to showcase in Maertens Fine Jewelry & Gifts, Heather Maertens is writing a new chapter in her jewelry career. The collection that, up until this point, has been known as our Maertens Exclusives has been re-branded as the Penny James Jewelry Co.. Heather's designs will be featured at fine jewelry boutiques throughout the country, however the entire collection can still be found at Maertens Fine Jewelry.

“This amazing journey would not have been possible without the support of our local community,” says Heather. “This venture has been years in the making and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate everyone who has encouraged me to grow my collection. I will be traveling to exciting places to personally select the perfect stores to carry the Penny James line and hope to use these new experiences as inspiration for future designs.”

Maertens’ signature pieces celebrating life by the Bay can now be found everywhere from Key West to the Outer Banks to Rehoboth Beach. Penny James may even be finding a new home at another designer boutique right here in Southern Maryland! For more information, including new retailers around the U.S., visit wearpenny.com or follow Penny James on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.