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Meet the Designer: Melissa Joy Manning

Melissa Joy Manning is a socially responsible fine jewelry brand featuring unique, modern designs, influenced by her passion for travel, art, and culture. We've carried Melissa's brand since day one, and love her unique, organic, gemstone-focused pieces, along with her commitment to environmental and sustainability practices in her studio. 

Designer: Melissa Joy Manning

Location: Brooklyn, NY and Berkeley, CA


How did you get started making jewelry?

I’ve actually always made jewelry. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t crafting something to make. I am an academically trained jeweler and studied in Spain, Mexico and San Francisco. It’s kind of the only thing I know how to do!

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer, or did you fall into the profession?

Even though I always loved making things, I didn’t realize I could forge a living in jewelry. It wasn’t until I saw a vocational counselor and took all these tests that said I should be an entrepreneur did I pursue my own business.

How long have you been in the trade?

Over twenty years. God, I am old!

What does your business look like now, versus when you started?

We’ve actually come full circle in the last 3 years and we are closer to when we started then we have been in a long time. I’m back to managing all aspects of my business, including sales, and have been able to focus on what is important to me as an artist- making beautiful, original, well crafter jewelry

What’s the most challenging part about being a jewelry designer?

Constantly making new things to stay current and distinctive in a very crowded market place.

What’s your favorite part about being a jewelry designer?

Wow, working with people. It’s an honor that people will buy what comes out of my head. As an artist, I’m so flattered and happy every time someone buys my work.

Who is another jewelry designer that you admire/do you have a mentor in the jewelry industry?

There are actually quite a few. I’m blown away by Rony Vardi’s business acumen (she is one of the forces behind Catbird). I love Jamie Joseph’s commitment to her craft and roots. Polly Wales redefines how to make jewelry everyday and is a true vanguard in our industry. Wing of Wwake constantly impresses me with her ability to create gorgeous product while remaining committed to the environment and community. Lauren Wolf’s jewelry is lovely and part of my story. Lucifer Vir Honestus is a long time fave and I adore most vintage work. 

I am blessed to have several mentors who are invaluable partners in this crazy industry. I am also blessed to mentor several designers whose energy and drive are inspirational and contagious.

Name your favorite piece you’ve ever made.

Back in the day I made this gigantic agate pendant (think Flavor Flave size) inset with rose cut champagne diamonds on a hand made 18k gold chain. I had to be talked into selling that one and I actually cried when I handed it over!

What’s your favorite piece of jewelry from your own personal collection? 

Ok, this is so cheesy, but I love my rose gold LOVE Cartier bracelet. My parents (who never agree to anything and haven’t been together for a LONG time) went in on it for my 40th birthday. It’s something I never thought I would treasure - it’s big brand, mass-produced. But, here’s the truth - it represents something incredibly meaningful to me, that despite their differences, my parents will always be together for me. And for that, it’s priceless.

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