Like many designers, Melissa Joy Manning has been creating wares since she was a child.
She styled her Barbie dolls and made jewelry for fun growing up, but it wasn't until several failed attempts at retail sales that Manning realized her passion was jewelry design. So she took a vocational aptitude test, which helped lead her to the field.
In 1997, Manning launched a signature jewelry company with a handmade organic vibe while working out of her home in Oakland, Calif. The line, picked up by Barneys New York in 2001, features materials such as organic gold and silver — metals mined in an ecologically and socially responsible manner — with druzy agate, opal and tourmalines.
"My aesthetic is very organic," said Manning, who recently moved her headquarters to Manhattan, where she now lives. "I like to test people's perceptions...blending things that aren't normally found together."
In that vein, the designer has launched a diamond collection — but sparkly and clear they are not.
"In the past 10 years, I have become intrigued in the nonperfection of a diamonds — diamond slices, diamonds that have organic shapes, diamonds with inclusions that other people would think are junk," she said.
The diamond line, named Precious Fusion, has looks such as stacking rings with diamonds and earrings. Prices in the collection range from $200 to $5,000 at wholesale. It has been picked up by Forty Five Ten in Dallas, Twist in Seattle and Fragments and ABC Carpet & Home in New York. The designer's Organic collection wholesales from $145 to $525, while the Metal collection, which includes her signature hoop earrings in gold and silver, wholesales from $415 to $1,500.
Manning also recently launched e-commerce on her Web site, melissajoymanning.com.
"We really wanted to have a site that was all about customer service," she said.
News of the launch spread by word of mouth and Manning made 40 percent of her build-out cost within two weeks. "We never expected that," she said.
A grooming moment between @tanfrance and @antoni last night at the The LGBT Community Center Trailblazer Awards honoring Anna Wintour, Ricky Martin and more. See more photos at WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
“It was a very surreal feeling. It wasn’t like we were in the studio together coming up with it — it’s more like he discovered it and loved it. I didn’t let myself get my hopes up, but then it happened it was very exciting,” said singer-songwriter @nombe on discovering that @pharrell would be using his song, “Cant Catch Me” on his HBO documentary series “Outpost.” The German-born singer — named Noah MacBeth — talked to WWD about feminism, using art as a platform for political expression and personal style. Read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
This season, denim is going west – in influence. Brands like @fathersdaughterla (pictured here), @tommyhilfiger Jeans, @levis and more are opting for raw, top-stitching styles. (Styled by @thealexbadia; 📷: @ryanplett)
20-year-old British singer @jorjasmith_ made her debut at Coachella last weekend. We caught up with her and talked about her love for Amy Winehouse, working with Kendrick Lamar on the “Black Panther” album and her fashion philosophy. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @katiedaisyla)
Supermodel @helenachristensen teamed up with longtime friend and designer @camillastaerk on a joint @paredeyewear collaboration. The lineup features three styles and 11 offerings, all of which embody a vintage feel. Get all the details on how they celebrated the collab on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories #wwdeye (📷: @slovekinpics)
“It’s a hard industry to keep motivated, as well, so finding different subjects and people is what makes it worth it – when you’re like, oh, I’ve met great people, I feel like I’ve done something good, and I feel proud of having done this,” said French actress Stacy Martin on being grateful for the variety of roles she’s take on. Read @ktauer’s full interview with Martin on her her latest film “Godard Mon Amour.” #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)