Gemologist and fine jewellery designer Matthew Ely
Five things you always pack in your carry on?
I never go anywhere without a diamond loupe because you never know what or who you’ll come across in your travels – somehow a great stone or a stunning piece of jewellery always comes across my path when I’m away. Secondly, my sketchbook and pencil: travel is some of the best downtime for designing. Other carry-on essentials are a laptop, sunnies and headphones so I can block out my surroundings and get drawing.
What is your favourite gemstone and why?
I could never pick just one, but I definitely have a favourite gemstone family. The Beryl family includes most of my favourites: emerald, aquamarine, morganite, green beryl and golden beryl. I fell in love with this group of gems straight away – shades of soft pastels mixed in with punchy colours makes them a great palette to work with for my designs. I love to inject as much light as possible in my pieces to enhance the natural ability of the stone to capture and release light, as all of these stones are distinguished by their transparency.
Where in the world do you source your gems?
I travel to Bangkok and Hong Kong for the international gem fairs, where the world meets to showcase the best gems sourced from all over the globe. For diamonds, we source from Antwerp in Belgium, which I consider to be the diamond capital of the world. In Antwerp, you can go to all of the top diamond houses and know that you are looking at the best range with the highest quality.
In your opinion, what is the most fashionable city in the world?
London, for so many reasons. It’s a mixture of heritage and modernism. London is the birthplace of traditional jewellery manufacturing, but it’s also a metropolis of fashion, street style, inspiration and home to so many great designers. I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship after my studies to go and work in London, to learn under the best craftsmen and manufacturers.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
Definitely the Amalfi Coast in Italy, Positano. The whole coastline looks like something out of a postcard and it’s such a relaxing pocket of the world. The views, food and the people – it’s all very picturesque.
What is luxury to you?
Luxury to me is anything that makes a person feel good inside and out. It can be something as small as treating my wife and myself to a night out at one of our favourite restaurants, or the smell of a new leather-bound sketchbook. In terms of bigger scale luxury, there is nothing more luxurious to me than a bespoke piece of jewellery, something designed especially for someone, one-of-a-kind and completely personal.
What is your personal style signifier?
A tailored jacket that fits like a glove, and a pair of personalised cufflinks.
From which destinations and time periods do you draw your jewellery design inspiration?
Paris has to be one of my biggest inspirations. As the city of lights and the home to some of the most impressive architecture in the world, I’m constantly looking to Paris as a muse. I’m very inspired by the art nouveau and art deco periods, and draw on the simplicity of their shapes and lines.
What is the most luxurious piece of jewellery you’ve come across in your career?
The royal jewels – while I was working in London some of the master craftsmen I worked with were consulted to reset the Queen’s engagement ring and reset diamonds into the crown jewels. From my travels sourcing stones I have also come across several 100+carat diamonds that are an absolute spectacle to view – and put into perspective when you consider the average engagement ring stone size is between one and two carats.