Twenty years ago, jewelry designer Melissa Joy Manning was just entering the bridal industry when two male friends asked her to create their wedding bands. Since then, she has played a crucial role in so many love stories—designing one-of-a-kind rings for one-of-a-kind relationships.
At the core of her namesake jewelry line is one mission: environmental responsibility. And because of this, she doesn't shy away from diamonds typically overlooked by the bridal industry. In fact, those oddities are her favorite. "For me, I really like using different diamonds that aren’t graded on the scale," she told Brides. "I use diamonds that have natural inclusions, beautiful colors, different structures and shapes."
Just walk into her California and New York studios or scroll through her website and you'll immediately notice how her jewelry stands out among the rest in terms of unique stones, settings and materials. Today, Manning launched a new line of engagement ring styles which pushes the envelope of uniqueness even further than her past collections. For starters, her new styles feature more colorful stones like Tanzanian sapphires in more modern settings. Technological advancements have also allowed her to go into finer detail with her handmade creations. But perhaps most importantly, Manning is starting to source her diamonds in a new way, focusing on reclaimed stones.
"[We're] taking our responsibility ethos kind of to the next level in not only how we source the stones that are new but also looking at giving used stones a new life," she shared. Another way she's furthering this mission is by offering to work with couples to create custom bridal pieces using heirloom stones. While she is no stranger to custom designs—she's been working with clients on bespoke pieces for years—the use of sentimental stones is a first for Manning.
"The thing that is the most meaningful is to create something that someone's going to treasure, that is going to become an heirloom in their family," said Manning, whose love affair for jewelry began when she would sift through family's own heirloom pieces in her grandmother's jewelry box as a young girl.
In a process that can take as little as three weeks, customers can bring their existing heirloom pieces to her and work together to create something completely new. She described, a groom could walk into her store with a family stone that dates back three generations. But, perhaps the stone is set in platinum and the groom knows his bride-to-be doesn't like white metal. With Manning's help, the family stone can be transformed into a new ring the bride loves, without destroying the long history the stone contains. "It’s really just a very collaborative process wherein I really listen and then utilize my design skills to create them something that is completely unique and gives the stone a new life that they appreciate and treasure," she shared.
According to the artist, the typical Melissa Joy Manning couple is "completely independent" and "really interested in responsibility." "I get to meet so many of them and they’re all just extraordinary people who care about their impact on the earth and they make really informed decisions."
Whenever any couple trusts Manning to create a special piece of jewelry she is humbled and honored. "I’m always incredibly grateful that someone would choose me to make something so incredibly special for them," she expressed.
To shop Manning's new collection and read love stories of real brides and grooms who commissioned her to be a part of their big day, you can visit her website here. With proposal season coming up, she's just the person you need to transform a family stone into a new treasured piece.