"I create jewelry to create change."
There are many things that set Melissa Joy Manning jewelry apart from the rest. For one thing, every piece is handmade onshore, in our California or New York studios, by skilled artisan using traditional, time-honored techniques.
"When I started my own business it was incredibly important to me to create a space for other artists to earn a living," says Melissa. "To this day, all of our jewelry is made in-house by team of artists who earn living wages and a competitive benefit and retirement package. We spend most of our lives at work-and I believe that work should be a culture that embraces and supports every member."
Producing the collection domestically using classic metal smithing techniques also eliminates the heavy chemical waste and pollution of modern high-volume processes and offsets the carbon imprint associated with importing and exporting. Crafting each piece by hand imbues our creations with a sense of spirit and energy that cannot be replicated in mass market production.
"The imprint of each person who made the piece remains in the metal and stones," says the designer. "This resonance enhances beauty unlike any machine ever could." It also gives every Melissa Joy Manning piece a uniquely personal charm.
We also support our communities through a variety of charitable organizations, including the Clean Water Fund, Nest, Feeding America, Breast Cancer Walk, Global Brigades, The Nature Conservancy and New York Police & Fire Widows' and Children’s Benefit Fund.
"I am incredibly inspired by nature," says Melissa. "Therefore, it would be incredibly disingenuous of me not to protect it."
To this end, all Melissa Joy Manning jewelry is made by hand in our Berkeley studio, which has been Green Certified by the state of California since 2005 through the Alameda County Bay Area Green Business Program - as has our Berkeley retail store (the first of its kind to be awarded this certification). Although not Green Certified, our New York studio holds true to the same processes that dictate our California production.
Using responsible production methods, recycled precious metals from a Green Certified refiner, energy efficient light bulbs and recycling programs, we take great pride in being an environmentally responsible company. We also use recycled packaging and carbon offset every package that we ship, domestically and internationally, through a partnership with the UPS Carbon Neutral program. The most important part of being an environmentally responsible business is that we are constantly re-evaluating our systems and examining our own impact so that we can accommodate new ways to reduce our imprint.
"I love a good story," says Melissa. "For me, making jewelry is the manufacturing of a tangible story-and I find it incredibly interesting to give something old new life and incorporate it in modern design."
Nowhere is this more apparent than in our use of recycled metals. We use recycled sterling silver and gold sourced from a Green Certified refinery with the highest environmental standards, along with alternative materials like Leland Slag (a stony material created while refining ore in Michigan auto plants) and raspberry nickel (leftover from shuttered US zipper factories).
We also use upcycled stones wherever possible, along with antique tribal and reclaimed charms, which offer an innovative,forward-thinking take on the term precious.
At Melissa Joy Manning, responsible sourcing is a top priority.
A portion of the stones and raw materials we use come from domestic sources.
Our domestic stones come from reputable companies who strive to ensure that top ecological and social standards were met during mining, cutting and recycling. When buying stones internationally, we endeavor to purchase directly from mine owners themselves to ensure best practices are upheld.
All diamonds used in the Melissa Joy Manning collection are certified conflict free through the Kimberley process. Through responsible purchasing we avoid the social issues typically found in the mining and importing of precious gems.
"Being sustainable means ensuring that the product put into the world gives back to it and supports its survival," says the designer.