Hello! I’m Mark Thaler, the designer and owner of Swanheart Jewelry. Formerly known as “Markalino Jewelry”, I’ve been designing and handcrafting unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry. My journey into jewelry making began 10 years ago and it’s been my passion ever since.
As a child growing up in San Francisco during the 1980’s, I would admire my mother, her cousins and her friends, who were always impeccably dressed and wore bold, glamorous costume jewelry was a part of that. The 1980’s were all about the big and bold when it came to fashion. Jewelry was, of course, the means of making a statement and designers at the time were looking to push design boundaries while exploring use of new materials.
Television shows such as Dynasty and Dallas influenced much of this fashion trend, as well as icons such as Princess Diana, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. It was predominantly the beaded, crystal and cut glass statement pieces that always caught my eye and held me captive. Little did I know that years later I would begin designing my own pieces!
My creative journey didn’t actually begin until my 20’s. I started out with decorative wood boxes, which I painted and adorned the top using dollhouse miniature items, setting a sort of “scene”. Following that, I made jeweled eggs; then hats decorated with silk flowers and feathers; then it was masks representing showgirls and glamorous female characters and finally, jewelry, which is the creative passion that finally stuck.
2007 was the year I began making jewelry, starting with simple filigree earrings that I encrusted with Swarovski flat back crystals. I had brought to a family gathering that summer and they were an instant hit! And believe me, if my family doesn’t like something, they’re going to be honest about it, so their enthusiasm told me that I was on the right track. After this, I began conducting online research about jewelry making and I was frequenting the local San Francisco bead shops to purchase more supplies.
During the beginning stages of my jewelry making, there was a lot of experimentation, along with trial and error. Being a jewelry newbie, I was so enthusiastic about making jewelry that I was producing way too much of it, not really knowing if it was well-made, but concentrating on whether or not it was “pretty”. However, over time I learned which materials were the best to use and which techniques proved to furnish the best results in creating lasting pieces. I learned that it is best to create fewer, more exquisite pieces that are going to be a part of a woman’s jewelry collection for a lifetime rather than create an overly-abundant collection that could fall apart in a short amount of time.
After 10 years of designing and constructing jewelry, I can say with confidence that I offer unique, high quality, well-made jewelry that brings compliments and admiration to those who wear it. My experience has led me to creating gorgeous pieces of jewelry that will last for many years to come with proper care and storage.
My original business name had been “Sparkly and Dangly”, which was really a name I came up with to be “cute”. Then, after my father passed away in 2011 after a four-year battle with cancer, I changed the name to “Markalino Jewelry”. Markalino was a nickname my father had given me as a child and it seemed to stick through my adulthood. It was in 2017 that I decided to change the name once again, this time to “Swanheart Jewelry”, with swans being representative of elegance, grace and love. This is my latest endeavor, which is going to focus on creating jewelry that is inspired by women throughout the ages, yet is made for the amazing women of today.
My jewelry also extends to drag queens, who are constantly influenced by female fashion icons of every era. There is often a misconception about drag queens, that they want to “be” women, but in reality, drag queens are men who enjoy being entertainers while dressed up in over-the-top costumes, quite often for the purpose of raising funds for charities, as well as raising community awareness regarding various issues.