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INTERVIEW: Melissa Joy Manning’s Handmade Jewelry Fuses Luxury, Ethics, Sustainability

Luxury and beauty can exist alongside an ethic of respect and responsibility.

By Morgana Matus - Source:
Photo © Melissa Joy Manning

Photo © Melissa Joy Manning

Jewelry should be about self-expression, embellishment, and adornment that lets the individual shine as brightly as the pieces they are wearing . The last thing anyone should worry about when clasping a necklace or donning a ring is whether or not another human being or the environment had to suffer for fashion. Sustainable designer Melissa Joy Manning stands as a shining example of eco-conscious artistry in an industry dominated by fleeting fads and questionable supply chains. As a member of the invitation-only Council of Fashion Designers of America, she has been recognized as an outstanding contributor to her craft. The fact that she employs a host of environmentally and socially responsible practices throughout a successful company is as an important reminder that luxury and beauty can exist alongside an ethic of respect and responsibility.

Photo © Melissa Joy Manning

Photo © Melissa Joy Manning

Ecouterre was fortunate to sit down with Manning and ask a few questions regarding her inspiration and motivation behind her line of ethical jewelry.
Why is it important to use ethically sourced materials in your work?

As an artist inspired by nature, I believe it would be incredibly disingenuous of me not to protect the environment while pursuing my craft. It is my hope that through using ethically sourced materials we will minimize our own impact.

Designers are leaders and problem solvers—it’s important for us to start a conversation about thoughtful consumption and how industry can create proactive, cumulative change through responsibly made products.
What processes or techniques do you employ to reduce waste and ensure a fair supply chain?

All of our jewelry is made in our own studios in California and New York. Our California studio is certified green by the state of California. Our New York studio employs the same production methods. From waste treatment to energy usage, our studios are responsible. In addition to this we are a zero waste manufacturer. This means that all of our metal scrap is sent back to our supplier for refining. Any extra stones are warehoused and used in future design rounds. Because we make everything to order in we can assure that our manufacturing is sustainable and meets our high standards of responsibility and quality.

Aside from our production, we continually push ourselves to lessen our impact on the environment. When opening our New York store we invested in eco-heating and -cooling, non-off-gassing paints and recycled building materials. All back office operations utilize recycled materials, we have a recycling manager in house, printing is done on recycled papers with soy based inks, plastic water bottles are discouraged, and we carbon offset all of our shipping as well as corporate travel.

All of our raw metal is 100 percent recycled and is purchased from a certified green refiner in the US. Our machine made chain is made of 25 percent recycled metal and is also US produced. The majority of our stones are sourced from trusted vendors and all of our precious gems follow the Kimberly Process.

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