Last November, I traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa to meet Monna Mokoena and learn about his contemporary art gallery, Gallery MOMO. During our group’s excursion to Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park, I met a New York art curator, Monique Long, and was instantly smitten with her style, especially an ebony ring that graced her finger. I complimented the piece, and she revealed that Matthew Swope designed and made the ring.
Then, Long offered to introduce me to him, once we were back in NYC. On a cold December day, I joined her for a visit to Swope’s Upper West Side studio.
Swope’s background is in art history, and he graduated cum laude with a degree in the subject from Columbia University. He started his design company in 2004, and since then has sold his work in Barneys New York, Maxfield’s, Dover Street Market, and many more.
The beauty of Swope’s jewelry and accessories is in the natural materials he uses and craftsmanship. Swope employs natural stones, like agate, black jade, clear rock crystal, and malachite, to adorn his necklaces, earrings, and rings. He’s also seamlessly incorporates wood (he’s a big fan of ebony) into the designs, whether it encases a semi-precious stone or is carved into an arrowhead pendant. Everything is handmade and Swope’s craftsmanship is top of the line. Many of the beaded necklaces are strung onto silk Kumihimo cord, which Swope braids himself in the traditional Japanese way.
In addition to making jewelry, Swope also designs leather patchwork clutches, handbags, and totes. Each piece is a collage of leather and fabric that results in a one-of-a-kind work of art that can’t be duplicated.
In fact, “one-of-a-kind work of art” can be used to describe all Matthew Swope designs. If you’re a style geek who likes to be noticed for wearing unique pieces, then bookmark Swope’s website STAT!