"I don't even remember wanting to be a jewelry designer," says Melissa Joy Manning. "I just was."
Hyperbole this is not. In fact, the designer made her first piece of jewelry at age four. "My idea of play was making things: friendship bracelets, jewelry," explains the Northern California native. "I never set out to be a jewelry designer; rather, I wanted to live an authentic life in pursuit of my craft."
After majoring in art history at the University of California, San Diego and getting her BA in jewelry design and sculpture at San Francisco State University, Melissa studied traditional silversmithing at the Instituto de Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and European design principles at the University of Barcelona before launching her namesake line in 1997 with less than $1,000.
Since its inception, the Melissa Joy Manning collection has been known for its beautifully designed, impeccably crafted, and socially—and environmentally—responsible ethos.
Marrying an elegant, modern aesthetic with recycled materials and responsibly sourced stones that are transformed into organically urbane pieces by the designer and her team of artisans—and manufactured in a way that is friendly to both the earth and its inhabitants—Melissa Joy Manning is the rare brand that produces a luxury, heirloom-quality collection using ethical, Green Certified practices.
"I am fascinated by the energy and history of objects," says Melissa. "When creating jewelry I often think about the life it will lead; where it will go, the hands that it will pass through. As a jewelry designer, this is incredibly inspirational. Unlike sculpture, I know that my jewelry designs will have a life outside of my hands. They will become heirlooms that, at some point in time, will resonate with stories much bigger and more interesting than my own."
As the brand has grown, Melissa has introduced a wedding collection, expanded distribution to over 300 stores worldwide and opened her own flagship locations in Berkeley, California and New York City as well as a boutique in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. Additionally, Melissa founded and co-chaired the CFDA Sustainability Committee, won the Lexus Eco Fashion Challenge and now sits on the advisory board of the CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative.
"I am still concerned with beauty but I'm also interested in pushing people's perceptions of precious," says Melissa of her evolving ideals. "I'm also interested in creating a luxurious example of sustainability - one wherein people can experience impeccable, responsible design."
Today, the Melissa Joy Manning collection continues to push its creator's vision forward, with nature-inspired pieces that appeal to a sophisticated, thoughtful consumer who knows that in the modern world, style and sustainability go hand-in-hand.