Meet Jewellery Designer Matthew Harris of Mateo

Matthew Harris grew up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and remembers 1 crucial family rule he was informed as a boy or girl: “Make absolutely sure you normally have great jewellery — for the reason that if a thing goes improper, you market it.” Harris took that to coronary heart and wore a tennis bracelet on his wrist and a diamond cross on his neck for as prolonged as he could don’t forget — having gold jewelry was a custom of the Harris family members. Spoiler notify: He did grow up to sell jewellery, producing his very own wonderful-jewellery model, Mateo.

But when Harris started out building jewelry in 2009, it was out of a require. “When I appeared for men’s jewellery, it was only unappealing skull-on the lookout pieces, which I refused to wear,” Harris claims. So he headed to the jewelry district in New York City and taught himself how to put items with each other. He lived in New York until 2019, but it “stressed him out.” Now, Harris life in Lisbon, Portugal, where he’s been for two yrs. “I really feel at ease when I’m listed here,” Harris says. And as a designer, a everyday living of relieve tends to make a change. Getting to be a designer wasn’t generally in the cards for him however. “I did not go to a extravagant fashion faculty. It is been innate talent and a drop of luck,” he suggests. Within just a yr, another person from Rihanna’s crew pulled a piece for her to don, a 14-karat gold collar necklace. Folks commenced asking him for a complete assortment, a women’s one particular. So he imagined, Why not? By 2015, he made an total women’s assortment employing 1 one of a kind piece: a gold bar. Right now, Mateo options 14-karat gold necklaces, rings adorned with diamonds, and unique pearlescent pieces. Underneath, Harris talks Mateo, expense jewellery, and drawing inspiration from everywhere.

Photo: MATEO

What was the inspiration at the rear of your first piece? 
I moved to Mattress-Stuy in 2009, and when we were shifting, a screw fell out the wall, and I was like, Why isn’t a screw a necklace or a bracelet? I went to Household Depot and acquired a shit ton of screws and nails. I picked up a toolbox, way too, and arrived dwelling and informed myself I was going to transform it into jewelry. Which is how the full idea arrived to daily life.

Now that you’ve expanded into much more elevated items and women’s as well, where by else do you attract inspiration from? 
I applied to adore New York, but New York stresses me the hell out. It does, even so, inspire me a large amount. I was just there very last week, and I noticed a girl pump on to the teach extremely nonchalantly searching badass. I pictured what parts would appear very good on her. That is how I get impressed. I never need to be in a individual atmosphere. I always stroll with a little notebook and I’m scribbling down notes. My household, Jamaica, demonstrates up in my perform a lot, in my very own individual way. I believe when men and women assume of Jamaica they count on to see bamboo earrings or reggae-coloured jewellery, but my cultural influence is a whole lot additional delicate. A good deal of my parts are yellow gold, and we use a great deal of malachite, a bold eco-friendly gemstone — the two colours are a part of the Jamaican flag. There’s also a lot of black onyx in my perform, which signifies the people and power of the country.

What makes a excellent piece of jewelry and provides that elevated character to it?
For me, what makes a fantastic necklace, bracelet, or any piece of jewelry is wearability. If you are spending dollars on jewellery, you have to have to be equipped to put on it all the time and get your money’s truly worth. A wonderful piece has to normally be timeless, so if I make a thing and you can not dress in it often, it’s not in our assortment. We have some items that are a bit extravagant, but at the conclude of the day, there is a simplicity about them that will allow you to use them all the time.

What is 1 piece of jewellery absolutely everyone must commence with?
Some thing with an initial — it’s present day and own.

You also design seriously chic luggage. How does your inspiration differ when planning luggage as opposed to jewelry? 
I’m not a normal handbag designer. I’m not launching a new bag each individual year, so if I’m heading to make a purse, it has to either be timeless or have some impressive shape about it. This is why we have not even introduced a new bag not long ago. I’m not attempting to increase an additional bag on the marketplace.