Matthew Harris grew up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and remembers one particular essential household rule he was explained to as a youngster: “Make positive you generally have fantastic jewelry — mainly because if a thing goes erroneous, you offer it.” Harris took that to coronary heart and wore a tennis bracelet on his wrist and a diamond cross on his neck for as very long as he could try to remember — having gold jewellery was a custom of the Harris household. Spoiler warn: He did expand up to offer jewellery, building his individual great-jewelry model, Mateo.
But when Harris begun building jewelry in 2009, it was out of a need. “When I appeared for men’s jewellery, it was only hideous skull-seeking pieces, which I refused to use,” Harris suggests. So he headed to the jewelry district in New York Town and taught himself how to put items alongside one another. He lived in New York until finally 2019, but it “stressed him out.” Now, Harris life in Lisbon, Portugal, exactly where he’s been for two several years. “I really feel at simplicity when I’m right here,” Harris says. And as a designer, a lifestyle of simplicity helps make a variance. Getting a designer wasn’t often in the cards for him though. “I did not go to a fancy trend school. It is been innate talent and a fall of luck,” he says. Inside of a yr, an individual from Rihanna’s group pulled a piece for her to don, a 14-karat gold collar necklace. Folks started out asking him for a complete collection, a women’s a single. So he thought, Why not? By 2015, he created an total women’s selection applying one exclusive piece: a gold bar. Right now, Mateo features 14-karat gold necklaces, rings adorned with diamonds, and distinctive pearlescent pieces. Down below, Harris talks Mateo, investment decision jewelry, and drawing inspiration from almost everywhere.
What was the inspiration powering your initial piece?
I moved to Mattress-Stuy in 2009, and when we were being shifting, a screw fell out the wall, and I was like, Why isn’t a screw a necklace or a bracelet? I went to Property Depot and acquired a shit ton of screws and nails. I picked up a toolbox, too, and arrived property and explained to myself I was heading to transform it into jewelry. That is how the total notion came to existence.
Now that you have expanded into much more elevated parts and women’s as very well, where by else do you draw inspiration from?
I used to like New York, but New York stresses me the hell out. It does, nonetheless, inspire me a great deal. I was just there very last 7 days, and I observed a girl pump onto the coach incredibly nonchalantly on the lookout badass. I pictured what pieces would glimpse excellent on her. That’s how I get influenced. I never have to have to be in a distinct atmosphere. I generally wander with a little notebook and I’m scribbling down notes. My household, Jamaica, displays up in my operate a good deal, in my very own particular way. I imagine when folks consider of Jamaica they be expecting to see bamboo earrings or reggae-coloured jewelry, but my cultural affect is a great deal more subtle. A good deal of my pieces are yellow gold, and we use a good deal of malachite, a bold green gemstone — equally colours are a portion of the Jamaican flag. There is also a lot of black onyx in my work, which represents the persons and energy of the nation.
What tends to make a excellent piece of jewelry and provides that elevated character to it?
For me, what would make a great necklace, bracelet, or any piece of jewelry is wearability. If you are paying out cash on jewellery, you want to be ready to dress in it all the time and get your money’s value. A great piece has to generally be timeless, so if I make one thing and you just cannot wear it normally, it’s not in our selection. We have some pieces that are a little bit extravagant, but at the conclusion of the day, there is a simplicity about them that lets you to dress in them all the time.
What is a single piece of jewelry all people should start off with?
Some thing with an preliminary — it is fashionable and personalized.
You also style truly stylish baggage. How does your inspiration differ when building luggage as opposed to jewelry?
I’m not a regular handbag designer. I’m not launching a new bag every season, so if I’m heading to make a handbag, it has to either be timeless or have some impressive shape about it. This is why we have not even introduced a new bag just lately. I’m not making an attempt to insert a different bag on the market place.