Melissa Joy Manning: Designer

If you appreciate organic beauty, and value sustainable, socially-responsible jewelry, then Melissa Joy Manning is your gal! When I first entered her boutique in Berkeley back in 2011, I was struck by how this line really was unique. Inspired by nature, the jewelry cases were accented by fossils, vintage taxidermy and insect specimens. It was like being in a little museum of curiosities, where you could actually buy what was behind the glass. (jewelry, that is…)

It wasn’t until I was at the Couture show that I actually got to meet Melissa in person. Though she claims that she is deceptively shy out of “work”, I find that hard to believe. I thought she was just charming!

Amy and Melissa
Amy and Melissa

During our chat, I certainly could understand her life-long love of jewelry. (definitely something we have in common, aside from both being Bay Area natives) From the time she was a child, making jewelry at her Montessori grade school, she was hooked. At age 20, she went to Mexico to learn silver smithing, and finally made the leap into full-time designing over 15 years ago.

This dramatic pair of chandelier earrings is made from dumorierite, petrified wood, and pyritized ammonite. Have you ever seen anything like them?

These are a work of art!
These are a work of art!

She travels to gain inspiration for her designs, and nature is especially important to her. As she says, “I like to challenge the ideals of traditional jewelry by blending conventional materials to create neoteric pieces.” She only uses 100% recycled silver and gold. The majority of her stones are sourced here in the USA, and all her materials are from reputable suppliers who also are share her vision of sustainability.

This geode cuff is quite fantastic. And you’ll notice her prong settings are different that most you see. This is one way I’m able to identify her pieces when I come across them.

It's an artifact for your wrist
It’s an artifact for your wrist

Melissa also designs many simpler pieces, that can be worn in a variety of ways. For example, take a look at this freeform chain bracelet. With its mixed metals and different scale chains, it’s perfect on its own or in a stack with other bracelets.

Cool design!
Cool design!

She has a very interesting collection of non-traditional bridal jewelry as well. If you’re in the market, you might like a ring like this one.

Will you marry me?
Will you marry me?

Just this past Sunday, I stopped by Red Bird, one of my absolute favorite boutiques. A tall jewelry case just beckoned to me, and I was blown away by these earrings, by none other than Melissa. I tried them on, and they were just perfect with my coloring and personal style (and not too heavy for my ear lobes). Alas, they were not in the budget at this time, but I won’t soon forget them!

I was in awe of these gorgeous creations!
I was in awe of these gorgeous creations!

All these beauties are hand-made right in her Berkeley studio — no outsourcing, no casting — just pure, old-fashioned metal smithing. It’s a real gift when people can make a fair living doing what they love. Hands-down, I’m an all-around fan of Melissa Joy Manning!

Santa Cruz Sea Glass

For the second year in a row, the first weekend in November was marked “Santa Cruz sea glass festival!” If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I’m pretty addicted to the beach and collecting sea glass. The show did not disappoint, and I was quite excited to meet Krista Hammond, the owner of Santa Cruz Sea Glass and the producer of the festival.

krista hammond and amy roseveare
At the Santa Cruz sea glass festival

Krista and her husband, Tony Berkowitz, have combined two of my passions, sea glass and jewelry. They founded their company in 2006. Living in Santa Cruz, and both being surfers, they spend lots of time on the beach, so I imagine it was just a matter of time before they created this wonderful business. They find each and every piece of sea glass themselves, and then hand make each item in their home studio.

santa cruz sea glass
A shot of the production area

Krista and her husband work as a team with each piece. Krista works more on the design end, and Tony is the silversmith. They were fortunate to be mentored by Robert Wunce, a very talented jeweler. It seems like they have a perfect harmony going — Tony always says, “I’m the dirt and you’re the flowers.” Symbiosis, right?

Here’s a photo that shows some of their glass collection. I tried not to drool on the glass case…

santa cruz sea glass
I would faint if I even found ONE piece like this!

Here are some of their finds made into stunning rings.

santa cruz sea glass rings
Hmm…which is my favorite?

I guess this one is. 😉

sea glass ring

And finally, here’s a lovely photo of some of their bracelet designs.

santa cruz sea glass bracelets
Talk about arm candy!

Not only do they create beautiful jewelry, but they also give part of their profits back to the sea by way of their partnership with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. In addition, they are a green company and use recycled US silver in their designs. What’s not to love?

With holiday shopping season now upon us, you just might want to check out their jewelry — either for a gift for a loved one or for some self-gifting! 😉