"Herkimer diamonds are a rock geek's best friend," says Melissa.
Indeed. First discovered in the late 18th century, these rough-hewn stones are completely unique and occur in only one place in the world: Herkimer, New York. An unusually transparent double matrix crystal that refracts light like a diamond—and is believed to magnify spiritual energy and act as a conduit to the universal life force—Herkimer diamonds grow in a unique shape that is now imitated by some crystal cutters.
"However, a true Herkimer hasn't been cut," explains MJM. "It's grown itself into a crazy form that is evocative of its mystery and time in the ground. Often, it encapsulates water like a bottle. These crystals produce a dreamy resonance in me unlike most stones I find."
This passion can be clearly felt throughout the Melissa Joy Manning collection, which translates the Herkimer diamond's intriguing rugged-yet-refined duality into pieces that are an artful blend of organic elegance.
Turquoise, French for "Turkish Stone," is one of the oldest stones known to man and was once used as a talisman of Kings and healers. Trade routes brought the stone from its origin in Asia to Turkey where it eventually made it’s way to Venice - hence its name.
As far back as 5000 BC Turquoise has been seen as a symbol of nobility, eternal youth and wisdom. Spanning all known cultures, it is considered a magical and protective stone. More recently, Native Americans have (and still do) use Turquoise to protect burial sites. Rich in history, Turquoise is still used today.
When sourcing our turquoise we are committed to searching out vintage, American Mined stones. Our Turquoise is neither stabilized nor heat treated. Some of the stones used in this collection come from the Nazacari, No 8., and Milky Way mines located in Arizona and New Mexico.
Pearls, those alluringly luminous treasures from the sea, are a perfect example of man and nature working in harmony.
Pearls have been prized as symbols of beauty and purity since time immemorial. They are thought to pre-date the Christian Era by five or six centuries, with the earliest recordings of pearl diving originating from China's Han Dynasty in 206 BC-220 AD. Since then, these irresistible objects have been coveted for their lustrous, iridescent appearance and their ability to cast a warm, flattering glow upon anyone who wears them.
While natural pearls do occur occasionally, they are extremely rare—and extremely expensive. Cultured pearls are a manmade concept that came into favor following the Great Depression. Created by grafting a piece of shell or tissue into a developing mollusk—which responds by forming a protective nacre (or pearl) around the nucleus—these are the most common type of pearls used in jewelry making today, originating in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Pearls are believed to have a calming energy and to enhance the wearer's intelligence, wisdom and good fortune.
Along with the classic round, pinkish-ivory pearl seen on traditional two- and three-strand chokers, cultured pearls come in a variety of other varieties, as well, including the striking freshwater pearl, Tahitian black pearl and the unusual Biwa petal pearls that are showcased in the latest Melissa Joy Manning collection. Effortlessly elegant and understatedly glamorous, pearls bestow a sense of confident serenity on every woman they grace.
Taking its name from the Achetes River where it was first discovered in ancient Sicily, agate is a form of Chalcedony most often found in volcanic or metamorphic rocks. The bands of color that define agate are the result of its having been mixed, by nature, with granite or silica-filled water that leaves behind variegated stripes that are, in a word, mesmerizing.
"Agates are miniature worlds encapsulated in stone," says Melissa of this age-old gem, which today comes from a variety of places—including Germany, Uruguay, Mexico, Italy, Brazil and Lake Superior—in a range of shades, from white, gray and light blue to orange, red and black, some with a distinctive eye or mosslike pattern.
Thought to enhance balance, strength and stability, and to offer protection from stress and bad dreams, agate is one of the oldest stones known to man.
"I'm constantly in awe of how amazing nature is when I look at an agate," adds Melissa. "I'm also amazed by how many variations exist and in what incredible patterns and colors. As a designer, I could lose myself in the endless bands of colors."
It is only fitting, then, that this metamorphic rock should be transformed into breathtaking statement jewelry designed to stand the test of time.