Matthew Harris grew up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and remembers a person vital loved ones rule he was explained to as a little one: “Make sure you constantly have superior jewelry — because if a thing goes improper, you sell it.” Harris took that to coronary heart and wore a tennis bracelet on his wrist and a diamond cross on his neck for as long as he could bear in mind — getting gold jewelry was a custom of the Harris spouse and children. Spoiler inform: He did mature up to sell jewelry, building his have great-jewellery model, Mateo.

But when Harris started out building jewelry in 2009, it was out of a require. “When I appeared for men’s jewelry, it was only ugly skull-seeking parts, which I refused to don,” Harris suggests. So he headed to the jewelry district in New York Metropolis and taught himself how to place parts collectively. He lived in New York right until 2019, but it “stressed him out.” Now, Harris lives in Lisbon, Portugal, where he’s been for two yrs. “I truly feel at ease when I’m in this article,” Harris says. And as a designer, a existence of ease will make a variation. Getting to be a designer was not often in the cards for him nevertheless. “I didn’t go to a extravagant fashion school. It is been innate talent and a drop of luck,” he says. In a calendar year, an individual from Rihanna’s group pulled a piece for her to put on, a 14-karat gold collar necklace. Individuals commenced inquiring him for a total collection, a women’s one particular. So he thought, Why not? By 2015, he produced an entire women’s collection utilizing just one special piece: a gold bar. These days, Mateo options 14-karat gold necklaces, rings adorned with diamonds, and one of a kind pearlescent parts. Under, Harris talks Mateo, expense jewellery, and drawing inspiration from in all places.

Picture: MATEO

What was the inspiration driving your very first piece? 
I moved to Mattress-Stuy in 2009, and when we have been moving, 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 bought a shit ton of screws and nails. I picked up a toolbox, also, and arrived household and advised myself I was going to remodel it into jewellery. That’s how the whole plan arrived to life.

Now that you have expanded into much more elevated parts and women’s as nicely, exactly where else do you draw inspiration from? 
I used to adore New York, but New York stresses me the hell out. It does, having said that, encourage me a lot. I was just there previous week, and I noticed a woman pump on to the practice incredibly nonchalantly wanting badass. I pictured what pieces would search fantastic on her. That is how I get impressed. I don’t want to be in a particular ambiance. I always stroll with a small notebook and I’m scribbling down notes. My home, Jamaica, reveals up in my perform a ton, in my personal private way. I assume when individuals think of Jamaica they assume to see bamboo earrings or reggae-coloured jewelry, but my cultural influence is a ton extra refined. A good deal of my pieces are yellow gold, and we use a great deal of malachite, a bold inexperienced gemstone — both of those colors are a part of the Jamaican flag. There is also a large amount of black onyx in my do the job, which signifies the people and strength of the nation.

What will make a fantastic piece of jewellery and provides that elevated character to it?
For me, what can make a excellent necklace, bracelet, or any piece of jewelry is wearability. If you are expending funds on jewelry, you have to have to be equipped to use it all the time and get your money’s well worth. A terrific piece has to constantly be timeless, so if I make a thing and you can’t dress in it generally, it is not in our collection. We have some items that are a little bit extravagant, but at the conclude of the day, there is a simplicity about them that lets you to wear them all the time.

What is one piece of jewellery anyone should start with?
One thing with an preliminary — it is fashionable and personalized.

You also design and style seriously stylish baggage. How does your inspiration vary when creating luggage as opposed to jewellery? 
I’m not a common handbag designer. I’m not launching a new bag each individual year, so if I’m likely to make a handbag, it has to both be timeless or have some progressive form about it. This is why we haven’t even released a new bag not long ago. I’m not attempting to include yet another bag on the market.