Joyful, powerful, unique; These are words that describe both the designer and her jewelry. Since the inception of her first line in 1997, Melissa Joy Manning has created a collection of unusual, modern designs that transcend stylistic trends and attract a loyal following.
“I like to challenge the ideals of traditional jewelry by blending conventional materials to create neoteric pieces,” says the designer. “I believe in the permanence of the piece, and one of my greatest inspirations is in knowing that people will treasure their jewelry, hopefully for generations.”
Melissa links the modern with the traditional whenever possible. Her unique expression is clearly influenced by her passion for travel, art and culture. Melissa studied traditional silversmithing at the Instituto de Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and European design principles at the University of Barcelona. Prior to studying abroad, Melissa majored in art history at the University of California, San Diego, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in jewelry design and sculpture from San Francisco State University.
Nearing 15 years of design, Melissa reflects on the moment she knew this was her calling. Shortly after starting her company in 1997, Melissa was questioning if she should take the risk and dive wholeheartedly into her fledgling jewelry design business. While flipping through TV channels, Melissa stopped at “Just Shoot Me”, a sitcom she had heard of but never seen. As she idly watched the program, one of the show’s many supermodels sauntered across the screen wearing a Melissa Joy Manning necklace. “It was the ultimate sign; it showed me that the business was meant to be.” Melissa says, “I believe everything happens for a reason, and if you pay attention, there are signs everywhere. I’ve been thankful ever since for having the courage to pursue this, because I love what I do.”
In many ways, the San Francisco Bay Area native’s career choice seemed fated. Melissa made her first piece in pre-school, a ceramic bead necklace that her mother still treasures. Today, she designs multiple product lines including a custom collection of bridal jewelry. Always moving forward and broadening her creative strokes, Melissa focuses on speaking to the individual rather than the masses. Melissa believes, “My jewelry is not an accessory, but an expression. My pieces aren’t about buying into what mass media tells you you should be, but about finding a piece that speaks to the individuals and echoes their personality. I believe that jewelry can influence the way you feel; it can say and mean something different to every wearer.”
Melissa purchases her materials, found worldwide, from only trusted suppliers who share her belief in both social and environmental sustainability. Each piece is handmade to order in her Berkeley, California studio by her in-house production staff. “We are so fortunate to be able to do what we love and make a living through our art. We are immensely grateful that we are blessed with the ability to pursue our passion,” Melissa says.
In 2011 Melissa was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America.