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!

Petra Class: Designer

The first time I met Petra Class and saw her beautiful line was at the American Craft Council show in San Francisco. (She’ll be showing there again this coming weekend, August 3-5!) Her line had a very modern aesthetic, with clean lines and delicious gems. I was delighted to once again see her at the Couture show, and I had a chance to chat more with her (loved finding out that she’s a 2nd degree black belt in Aikido!) and really explore the line.

petra class jewelry
Two curly girls!

Petra was born and raised in Germany and started designing right out of high school. She adores sitting at the work bench working on her designs. All her pieces are made right here in San Francisco, and she only uses recycled gold.

petra class jewelry
Hard at work on something (undoubtedly) gorgeous

Here is a stunning ring. The blue-green hues elicit the feeling of the Mediterranean. I can almost feel the sun shining down on me…

petra class ring

This bracelet really showcases Petra’s perspective. As she told me,”I like crazy in a structured way.” Well, I certainly believe she achieved it with this creation!

petra class bracelet
A rainbow for your wrist

I thought this pair of pearl, gold and diamond earrings had a particularly feminine feel, though combined with a modern edge. Nice juxtaposition!

petra class earrings
Organically beautiful design

Aside from at various shows, you can also find some of her line at Gumps in San Francisco. Personally, I really hope to make it to the ACC show at Fort Mason this weekend and see her latest work. If you’re in the SF Bay Area, hope you can make it as well!