Emidio Mele, an Italian immigrant to the United States, came to New York City in 1896 and learned to make jewelry boxes as an apprentice before founding Mele Manufacturing in 1912. He began by designing and building elegant displays for jewelry store windows. His jewelry box-making business grew throughout the 1900s, responding to demands for boxes to hold Purple Hearts during WWII and developing as a popular household name for quality jewelry boxes. Today Mele Jewelry Box is known as the Mele Companies, which encompass various divisions under the Mele name. Now based in Utica, N.Y., Mele still upholds the family atmosphere on which it was founded and remains America's foremost name in jewelry cases.