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.