Matturi Reclaims African Heritage In Its Modern Renditions

Being British with West-African heritage, Satta Matturi combines deep-felt traditions from the African continent, mixed with a global view of trends, attitudes and inspiration, to create distinct contemporary designs that resonate with all women across the globe.

Like many indigenous cultures, the design history of African jewellery had the narrative of its craft legacy whitewashed by the countries that colonised it, reducing the continent to becoming a supplier of raw gemstones for a primarily Caucasian market, or the patronising exhibit of African tribal jewellery at museums and auction houses.

Setting the record straight is Satta Matturi, the Founder and Creative Head of award-winning Matturi Fine Jewellery, which she founded after a 17-year diamond career, working in sales and rough diamond valuation, at one of the world’s largest diamond mining groups. Her skills, experience, and network within the mid-stream of the diamond pipeline, coupled with her passion for diamonds and fine jewellery led to her niche namesake brand.

Kush 1 18-karat gold earrings patterned with diamonds, rhodolites and black enamel.

How would you best describe Matturi? 

Matturi Fine Jewellery is a brand that creates distinctive designs that take inspiration from the world but in particular the African continent using sustainable precious stones and natural diamonds.

What is Satta Matturi’s signature design statement? 

One thing we are known for is our Nomoli Totem signature design which is inspired by spiritual African stone figurines and mask carvings. We embellish and stud ours with various precious stones, and with each collection create a variation of it to complement the theme.

On model: Deben 18-karat gold earrings patterned with diamond triangles and brilliants and Akoya pearls.

What is your brand’s USP? 

Using natural diamonds and creating designs that are distinctively different from what is out there. We do not want to create or follow the traditional design norms, so this allows us to think outside the box and create pieces that are unique.

Tell us about your most recent collection Whispers of Meroë.

Our third collection is a celebration of a fascinating period of ancient history and civilisation within Africa and its traditions. The luxurious jewels are an ode to the lost Nubian Kingdom of Kush and its stories of female power, resilience, and lost opulence during Ancient Egyptian times.

The collection celebrates its bold queens with rich textured gold, enamel layering and custom-cut gems. The bold and distinct designs echo the confident fearlessness the Kushite Queens had to emanate – a feeling we women of today still aspire to, despite the centuries that have passed between us.

The 18-karat gold linear Ta Seti earrings are fashioned with diamonds, morganite, and onyx.

How have you managed to modernise the concept?

Inspired by the culture, temples and more than 200 slender pyramids discovered at the Nubian capital of Meroë, we have opted for a deconstructed Art Deco style using linear forms in rich 18-karat yellow and white gold.

The rich yellow gold pays homage to ancient Nubian jewels unearthed by archaeologists, and the deliberate use of black onyx and pearls denotes the trade of ebony and ivory during that era.

What does the collection consist of ? 

The collection comprises bold chokers, anchored to ribbons crafted by heritage British embroiderer Hand & Lock. The signature Matturi Fine Jewellery Nomoli Totem earrings, inspired by African masks, make a return –this time donning stylised Pharaonic headdresses embellished with precious stones and pearls, to pay homage to the lavishly dressed, strong female Meroite leaders, such as Queen Amanirenas, who went to battle with the Romans.

The majority of the pieces within Whispers of Meroë are modular in nature, to give the wearer multiple options; gender fluidity has also been taken into consideration throughout the design process. Bespoke gem cuts, such as pyramidical diamonds, spiky semi-precious carved stones, and onyx doughnuts, add a sense of exclusivity to the collection.

Each piece within Whispers of Meroë is stamped with the Eye of Horus, which symbolises protection, royal power, and good health to the wearer.

18-karat gold Bayuda earrings set with morganite, diamonds and enamel.

Would you tell us something about Africa’s gemmological contribution to the rest of the world?

Sadly, an unattributed large majority of precious gems like tanzanite, amethysts, tourmaline, tsavorite garnet, and emeralds are sourced from sub-Saharan African countries. Only when this is done correctly can it benefit an entire nation and its society, which is why it is important that brands and the industry at large promote responsible sourcing. One of the reasons we started as a brand was to celebrate this fact and pay homage to a continent that allows us all to benefit from its natural resources.

Name your bestselling product ?

Our signature design: the Nomoli Totem which we create in various avatars. We have become quite well known for bejewelled masks and are popular with collectors and art enthusiasts.

Where does one buy your jewellery?

We have a very small niche distribution and that is part of our strategy. Our creations can be found at art galleries in London, Paris and also selected retailers in the USA. You can also order via our website.

You can also find a selection of our pieces with the auction house Sotheby’s in New York or London. The first series from Whispers of Meroë by Matturi Fine Jewellery is available to buy now exclusively from Goralska Joaillerie, Place Vendome, Paris. 

What jewellery trends do you predict for this season?

Modular jewellery is making a comeback and I feel this will do well given the global economic recession we are seeing, and so consumers want to invest in pieces that they can wear in multiple ways. Some of our designs in our current collection ‘Whispers of Meroe’ are multi-wear and gender fluid too. 

Are there any Indian jewel labels you adore?

I love Indian jewels and it plays a significant part of the country’s culture, heritage, and history. I particularly like the authentic and antique inspired houses such as Ganjam, but really liking the fresh direction that Sabyasachi has given to its high jewellery creations. But my ultimate love has to be Viren Bhagat! I hope to be able to own a piece by him one day.

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