Life a Box of Chocolate and Free Gemstones for Naples Woman Who Finds Mark Loren Rock

Naples, FL, April 21, 2013 --( It was serendipity at its best for Shelly Aristizabal. A series of random events on March 19 placed the Naples resident in the ladies’ room at the Norman Love Chocolate Salon, where she discovered a rock – overlooked by countless other visitors – worth $250 in gemstones or store credit at Mark Loren Designs in Mercato. And as they say, finders keepers, losers weepers.

The chain of events unfolded after Aristizabal followed a breakfast meeting with a trip to her bank’s only Naples location and what would become the ultimate coffee date with husband Edward.

“As I was leaving the bank I texted my husband to see if he wanted to meet for coffee,” she recalled. “We decided to meet at Norman Love because it was close. When I got there, he was on the phone so I went to the ladies’ room.”

Aristizabal noticed the smooth rock emblazoned with the Loren logo as she washed her hands. It was perched in plain sight on the sink just as it has been for two weeks.

“It’s a small sink, I don’t know why no one else picked it up,” said Aristizabal. “I saw it and thought, ‘What the heck.’ I picked it up and read the other side. I figured even if it’s for fake gems, it was still a great story to tell everyone.”

The manager assured her the rock was for real. “She told me I was the first person to ask about it,” said Aristizabal. “For such a busy place you’d think someone else would have noticed it. I guess it’s just another case of human nature and being too busy to notice things.”

Mark Loren Designs, a custom jeweler in Fort Myers, launched its “Mark Loren Rocks” campaign in January to promote its new Mercato gallery, placing six rocks in high traffic destinations and hangouts throughout Naples. Finders exchange the stones for precious or semi-precious gemstones such as sapphires, rubies, hematite and others worth up to $250. Aristizabal is the fifth to find a Loren Rock, according to partner Cameron Pelle.

“We’ve placed them throughout Naples,” he said. “You never know where you’ll find them. Some are very obvious although we thought the one at Norman Love was; it sat there for two weeks. At one point, someone even moved it to the potpourri bowl.”

In announcing the campaign, the jeweler may have even hinted at the Norman Love location, noting the rocks would be located in “sweet spots” around Naples. Mark Loren, an award-winning designer, jeweler and goldsmith, is known for his work with colored stones and unusual gemstones.

Pelle said three finders have chosen gems; two, including Aristizabal, opted for a $250 credit.

Aristizabal, an author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker, chronicled her find on Facebook, posting photos of the rock and a box of Norman Love chocolates: “Chocolate is soooo good for you! Stopped in for a treat & look what I found! Now I’m on my way to Mark Loren Designs for my free gemstone!” she wrote.

She later philosophized about seizing the moment: “Hello! Take advantage of every opportunity! What’s the worst that can happen? (If) the free gemstone is a tiny fake – still fun experience! What’s best? It may be a beautiful diamond! Most likely? I’ll have a great conversation starter for a while! LOL!”

And she didn’t miss a beat, visiting Mark Loren Designs that afternoon and perusing the sparkling array of pastel pinks and blues and golds. “What gem should I choose?” she queried her Facebook audience under a photo displaying the possibilities. “Moonstone, sunstone, pink topaz, star sapphires, peridot, citrine (my birthstone) so many choices...”

She ultimately chose the credit to repair her engagement ring and plans to replace a diamond lost three years ago and possibly have it reset.

Aristizabal wasn’t aware of the Mark Loren Rocks promotion or the jeweler’s new location. The founder of the Naples chapter of Business Women Connect, a soon-to-launch organization providing resources for women to grow personally and professionally, she plans to host her first reception at Mark Loren Designs.

“It’s amazing how everything just fell into place,” she said. “I went in to get some chocolate and got a $250 gift card for jewelry.”

Pelle said the promotion will continue through May 1. The found rocks have been placed in other locations.

Mark Loren Designs was founded in Fort Myers 25 years ago. Loren and his team of expert artisans have won numerous National Design Awards and gained celebrity-like status among industry critics and jewelry collectors.

For more information, visit the Fort Myers location at 13351 McGregor Blvd. (239-482-4664), the Mercato gallery at 9118 Strada Place, Suite 8120 (239-596-5820) next to Silverspot Cinema or visit
Mark Loren Designs
Andrea McKiddie