In conversation with The Lane.
We took The Lane on a behind the scenes visit to our NYC studio, where the Maniamania fine jewellery magic happens. Maniamania co-founders Melanie and Tamila delve into the production process and the inspirations behind our fine jewellery collection.
INTERVIEW BY THE LANE AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALICE MAHRAN
The Lane: As long time fans of your beautiful creations, we’re thrilled to be stepping behind the brand and into your world. Where do you draw your power from as individuals? Is it an internal pursuit or a harnessing of external energies?
Melanie: Its a little bit of both, internal and external. There are certain people that I look to for strength, like muses for life and in creativity. Vali Myers and Patti Smith are both big inspirations to me. I draw a lot of strength from music, particularly for getting into a creative space, it really tends to inform my mood and is very important to me. My dreams are also very vivid and I find the symbols and lessons from them can be supportive and guiding in my life.
Tamila: There is a similar feeling or energy that propels me in every facet of life, when a direction or decision resonates, a “truth” - its a very powerful force. It’s a cliché, but after becoming a mother it really amplified that intuition and created more clarity on what I’m drawn to. Working along side inspiring and like minded people has always been really important, as the energy created with those collaborations is how magic is created. I think a lot of power comes from the desire to have a consistent personal integrity in everything I do, which is always my guiding light.
What are your individual strengths?
Melanie: Tamila has such an incredible aesthetic sensibility, she has a flawless eye for style. She always gets it so right! Even after working with her after so many years, I'm still blown away by her creativity. More recently what is very inspiring is to see her as a beautiful mother. A new side of her is blossoming and I'm in awe of how she is managing to gracefully juggle this new part of her life as well as the business.
Tamila: Melanie has such a vast knowledge of obscure inspirations, she’s a collector and her spirit is most certainly from another time. Mel is also a truly talented artist and master collaborator, and quite psychic which comes in handy when we are working on opposite side of the globe. She’s also a Capricorn so she works really hard, which is both a strength and a weakness!
What are your passions? What would we catch you doing if we peered through your window on a Sunday?
Melanie: I love to go to antique and vintage shows in New York (or anywhere), collecting beautiful clothing, objects and jewellery. It is a bit of an obsession! A sunday afternoon in winter could be going ceramics studio to mess around with some clay on the wheel and listen to a podcast. I also quite like to go record shopping and then lay around and play them all.
Tamila; We just planted a medicinal herb garden on our country property so I’m learning how to grow and use them. We’re also doing a lot of Montessori activities with my son - its so exciting watching him learn and grow. I love how intertwined the two passions are.
Having built a reputation as the categoric go-to for the modern mystic and polished bohemian, explain the journey to your exciting new FINE Jewelry line?
Tamila: The idea of adornment and personal significance of jewellery has always been a driving inspiration for us, so creating fine jewellery holding the ultimate symbolic sentiment was a natural evolution of the brand. It began as a celebration of the minerals, crystals and gemstones we were using in our designs and evolved as we began working on finer details and higher grade materials. Melanie works closely with our artisan jewellery makers and diamond suppliers in New York to ensure our designs are brought to life. We also work closely with all of our clients with some whom are after specific bespoke details, so in this way its a more rewarding experience creating pieces that hold such special significance.
Tell us about the creative process? How does working with precious stones and metals affect your inspiration and design process? How is it different to your previous collections?
Melanie: ManiaMania Fine jewellery has been quite different for us, it is a refined process with a lot more detail required in the approach. There is more hands-on involvement from us directly as we make each piece to order in New York, and each stone is selected especially for the customer. With a focus on bridal and heirloom quality, we approach our Fine designs with an intention of elegance and romanticism, but it is a wilder and 'undone' sense of elegance. For this collection we take inspiration from further back in antiquity than we do for our costume line, with design features inspired by Victorian and Georgian era's , re-interpreted in a modern way. We like to use Rose Cut antique style diamonds as opposed to Brilliant cut diamonds to give this antique quality.
Tell us about the new bespoke service! How was the concept born and how does it work?
Melanie: Yes, we’ve been working with clients already who were requesting certain customized details and thought we should make it official! We now offer clients the ability to dream up and customize a ring that is unique and symbolic with their own personal meaning. Choosing from our selection of ring band designs, clients are able to customize their piece by choosing their favorite combination of stones, or adjusting the metal color and type, other than the selection we currently offer on our website. For example - this means you could order our 'Ritual' ring in Platinum with Sapphire center stone, or an 'Entity' ring in Rose gold with Black Diamond center stone and white diamond detail on the band. We also can offer special additions like personalized engraving inside the band. This service will be conducted mainly through email consultations, and appointments can also be made in our Sydney or New York based studios.
What are your favourite stones and metals to work with and why?
Melanie: We really love to work with the rose cut champagne and white rustic diamonds. They are all hand cut and are one-of-a-kind in their unique shape and color, which makes them all feel very special. The rose cut style is the first known cut of diamond dating back to the 1500s, and it resembles the petals of a rose. There are less facets, which are the little flat cut surfaces, than the well known brilliant cut, so you can really see into the diamond which we intended so you see the formations within the gemstone or diamond, which are called “inclusions”. They are so beautiful and give each stone such a unique look. I also love the process of choosing the Rutilated Quartz raw material that we cut down to specified sizes for the settings. I get quite lost in all the beautiful formations that the minerals make inside the quartz, they are nature's little perfect masterpieces. Sometimes its hard to part with them when we take them to the lapidary to be cut down for setting.
There is an undeniable power imbued in each MANIAMANIA piece. Why is this? Do you think magic is something that exists or is it something that you make?
Melanie: I think its what you are talking about is a combined effort of our intention, and also the individual power of the crystals and stones themselves. We have a very strong intention of magic and meaning when we design our jewellery, with inspirations varying from the natural magic of galaxies and stars to more esoteric symbols and ideologies. I definitely think that magic is something that exists but you need to know how to tap into it, and be open to it.
Tamila: I think magic is created with intention. Perhaps the power in our pieces comes from the passion we have for what we do, but also the layers of thought, the reasons behind the details in our designs, the symbolism, the choice of gemstones, our own personal inspirations and because we put so much of ourselves into each piece. They become a very personal creation which is carried over to the wearer to become their own. That passing of energy is how magic is created and I think why they feel so powerful, the intention.
Who is the MANIAMANIA Bride? What advice would you give her when selecting her jewels?
Tamila: The ManiaMania bride is interested in the spiritual aspect of a wedding and marriage. The wedding being the ceremony or ritual for commitment. So I guess she is bohemian, at least in spirit if not in style too. Our rings are inspired by the Victorian and Edwardian gothic style Memento Mori so they have a very romantic look. Many of the stones we use are quite rare. So our bride is romantic, free spirited and soulful and her union and ceremony will most probably reflect that.
Which hints should she drop to her beloved so he knows what to look for?
Tamila: A subtle tag on instagram! The words rustic, rose cut and champagne diamond will most probably lead to us….
Tell us about the gap you have identified in the bridal market and what you’re bringing to it?
Melanie: Many people seem to be looking for something more unique than a ring from a commercial jeweller. Some also like the idea and look of an antique ring but find the process daunting or difficult to find one they like. So, we have tried to create pieces that feel like heirlooms, pieces that have an antique feel but still feel inherently modern. This appeals to women who are either already collectors of Maniamania, or others who just want an alternative to a standard looking solitaire engagement ring. In our collection we also offer the option of different qualities of stones in each of our ring styles, from Quartz to Diamonds, meaning the rings can range from (AUD) $2600-$11,200, so we have price points that can fit different budgets.
You’re between Australia and NYC now, tell us about the NYC base for MANIAMANIA FINE. How has the move to the US influenced the brand and what does the broadened focus signify for the future?
Melanie: After Australia, our second biggest market is the US, and we have seen a lot of interest there particularly in our fine collection. We chose NYC obviously for being the creative hub it is, but also because of the jewellery district there, where we create each piece in the Fine Jewellery collection by hand and made to order, using ethically sourced and conflict free stones. We work closely with vendors there to personally select the most suitable stone for each client's ring, and then each piece is hand set by our experienced artisan setters. Being based in New York, we’re in good company, as the industry is really alive and busy but most of the designers know and support each other, we’re all like minded after all! Premium jewellery boutiques like Catbird, Love Adorned, Broken English and Esqueleto in the US have been so supportive and perfectly aligned with our aesthetic to showcase the collection in store. There has been a strong shift towards people wanting more a personalized customer experience and handmade, unique products, so this has suited the more Bespoke direction we have taken.
How was MANIAMANIA conceived? How did you meet? How did you discover your shared spiritual frequency and what made you take that and turn it into a business?
Tamila: We met in our mid twenties right before our Saturn Return, it was a real time of work hard play hard and we had so much fun, but we were also in the midst of a lot of spiritual growth. We were working at Russh Magazine and after years spent creating their signature look through the styling and art direction, we wanted to create something for ourselves. We were both really into jewellery and the idea of a vintage piece carrying the energy of past owners and becoming a keepsake, and we were creatively excited about telling a new story through a brand. The brand side of it was combining our interests in music, film and and the spirit aspect just kept coming to the forefront. We are by no means authorities on the subjects but we definitely both have a deep interest that we incorporate into our work. More recently we have invited some more qualified commentators to become a part of team to discuss and expand on the esoteric and spiritual topics through articles we’ve published online. It’s so interesting to us and I think a lot of our clients and customers have a keen interest in these topics too, so watch this space!
As the manifested sealing of fate, what does it mean to you to know that something you have created will carry such love, becoming a treasured heirloom symbol passed between generations? What is the most rewarding part of what you do and how does that permeate your work?
Tamila: Its a huge responsibility and when we meeting with clients to talk about their ring we look at what kind of jewellery they normally wear, the gemstones that may resonate with them or the properties that a particular gemstone represents. We love it when a guy has proposed with their ring and then they come and see us together to make the wedding band. Hearing the proposal story and seeing how happy our clients are, in person, is very rewarding. Melanie: Yes it feels very special to be part of such a big life experience, its a really beautiful feeling knowing that we have helped create happiness and memories through an object that has an integral part in a very meaningful exchange of love between two people. From the beginning, in an appointment or over email, the whole experience of ordering one of our Engagement rings is very personal. We like to maintain close contact with each customer through the enquiry and ordering process, whether it be a woman enquiring about her dream ring, or the partner organizing a surprise proposal or gift without her knowing.
There is an inherent philosophy and spirituality about the brand. Tell us about that?
Melanie: We have always been fascinated with crystals and esoteric ideas, and we both have collected crystals since we were kids. I grew up with eastern philosophies at home, with my parents getting into Transcendental Meditation when I was 10 years old, which then led onto other similar practices and I eventually ended up spending my late teenage years in an Ashram in India. This background was probably subconsciously part of laying the foundation for the ideas and ethos of Maniamania for me. All of our collections focus on forms of spirituality and empowerment and are inspired by either powerful women and muses we admire, or by other symbolic concepts and entities of spiritual focus. These days most people we know live 'conscious' life styles in one way or another, so its great this is becoming more of the norm and more people can relate to this intention.
You submit each of your pieces to an energy clearing process to clear them for their new wearer? Tell us about that process?
Tamila: Our diamond supplier does her own energy clearing to her diamonds and gemstones but before we deliver the finished piece we do a clearing with Sage burning and set an intention of love for the new wearer.
How do we find you?
Any parting magic?
Melanie: We always like a bit of Ram Dass - "Be here now".