Inspiration.

By my calculations, about three years and four months ago, I walked into Manika Jewelry for the first time and struck up a conversation with the owner, Peter Walsh.  I went on and on, as I do, about how much I love jewelry and that, in another life, I should have been a jewelry designer.  Peter, as a I recall, listened patiently to my ravings and then mentioned that there were places where one could take lessons in metal-smithing and jewelry-making.  In particular, he mentioned a nearby school, the Revere Academy.  It was a startling revelation that jewelers — these magicians of art and science — were not born with pliers in one hand and a torch in the other.  Someone taught them … that was something that could happen!

So, my obsession having been seriously ratcheted up by my conversation with Peter, in due course, I began to take jewelry classes at Scintillant and I started this blog.  I am sorry to say that I had forgotten how all this began.  However, it all came back me to me two days ago while out for a stroll in the middle of the day with a coworker friend of mine. (Did I ever mention that I’m a federal employee?)  It was on our walk that we stumbled upon Manika’s new, gorgeous location at 645 Market Street, San Francisco.  As Peter Walsh recalled that I had been in the store before, in a flash, I realized that it all started with him.

With that, allow me to tell you about Manika.

41f1f9_47858a8ca27da20495c931dd0ddc9740The new location is stunning with lots of light and spacious cases that show off the collection in way that is not overwhelming.  The collection itself has a nice variety.  There is something for everyone but it all hangs together — fine craftsmanship being the running theme.

The real secret to the Manika experience is Peter.  He loves what he does and it shows.  He is welcoming and kind.  He seems to genuinely enjoy discussing the collection with those who wander into his store and not simply for the purpose of making a sale.  Call it being a nice guy or call it stealth salesmanship, his time with customers like me is an investment and it is how businesses should be run.  While one might not always be in the market to drop money on fine earrings, when the time comes, he’s the guy you want to give your money to.

During my recent visit, Peter said, “I could talk about what I love about jewelry all day.”  He says it like a fact without a hint of forced enthusiasm.  It is that clear enjoyment of the art that allows him to curate the store so beautifully.  He obviously connects with jewelry artists who are thinkers.  They work the details and take a creative approach to function.

While much can and should be said about each and every designer carried at Manika, I leave that for another day.  Those posts along with one about Manika’s new custom designer GiGi Gruber — a delightful presence in the store — yet to come!

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More than Metal

The first jewelry that I was able to make was made of string.  I would spend endless hours trying to keep the string braided while I also managed  to tie it around my wrist.  It usually didn’t work.  It would unravel as I fumbled to tie it with one hand.  To this day, I have a weird allegiance to the world of fiber jewelry.  Fortunately, it is a world filled with much better jewelry than I ever managed to make during Saturday morning cartoons.

There is some beautiful stuff out there these days.  But, as with everything, there are a few who break the mold and make something unbelievable.  Maria João Ribeiro has managed to do this and then some with her inventive, playful line.  Her lovely work is available in her Etsy store, Kjoo.