I Design Jewelry for a Living—I Swear By These Staples

There’s something magical about jewelry. In fact, I can, without a doubt, say that most people have that moment at some point or another. What exactly that is depends on the context (maybe you’ve sauntered into a jewelry store, laid eyes on a loved one, dug through an estate sale, or even scoured the runways), but what’s clear is that the feeling is universal. Spotting the perfect piece of jewelry feels like a celestial experience. The world stops spinning, and you’ve become suspended in time, staring at something very sparkly. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but the true jewelry fanatics know the feeling. And no other fine jewelry brand in my mind has been able to harness that magical moment quite like Mateo

Founded by New York–based jewelry designer Matthew Harris in 2009, this brand has become a household name in the industry. In part, it’s due to the brand garnering fans like Rihanna early on. Still, upon further inspection, you can see that Harris’s star power is as bright as the sun itself. His work has been a beacon of light, forging the path into the future of fine jewelry. Early on, this was evident in how he was able to modernize pearls by using otherworldly elements in his women’s collections in 2015. This was long before the fashion set was clamoring to wear them, might I add. 

Harris isn’t just a trailblazer in terms of setting future jewelry trends, though. He’s a self-taught Black designer who has managed to sell his work to major retailers around the world and open his own brick-and-mortar store. He made history by securing the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and landing his work in major museums such as D.C.’s African American Museum of Art and Culture Museum. Mateo isn’t just another jewelry brand; this brand feels as special as watching a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event. So you can understand why I felt giddy at the possibility of interviewing him, and luckily for us, he obliged.

Ahead, you’ll hear from Harris about everything from founding his fine jewelry brand to the jewelry staples he swears by to his recent collaboration with Macy’s on a capsule collection. 

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