MJ Jones Is Your Favorite Footballer's Favorite Jeweler
Having worked with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, Nottingham’s sparkling jewelry designer tells Hypebeast how he plans to merge sports and fashion like never before.
When a sports season is underway, every team and competitor is in disagreement about almost everything. Opinions are divided on referee decisions, fixture schedules, and even which boot sponsor to wear. However, come rain, shine, home, or away, footballers, hoopers, cricketers, and everything in between are on the same page about who to go to for the best-in-class jewelry: MJ Jones.
Having launched his brand just over a decade ago, MJ Jones – aka Matthew J. Jones – has worked tirelessly within the sports sector, teaming up with some of the biggest stars on the planet to create custom pieces – such as championship and Olympic rings – combined with a VIP service that allows his clients to become hands-on with their own designs. Now, Jones is in a sparkling lane of his own; one that has cemented him as the go-to accessory designer for world-renowned stars such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Darwin Nunez, and many more.
While the culture of the NBA’s tunnel cam was the main catalyst for giving athletes a platform to spotlight their wardrobe, European sports have quickly caught on. In the UK alone we’ve seen Jack Grealish team up with Gucci, Lewis Hamilton connect with Tommy Hilfiger and Anthony Joshua punch his way into the fashion world with Hugo Boss.
“I think the culture from America has had a big influence on European culture,” MJ Jones said. “If you go to an NFL or NBA game, they have tunnel walks and all of these things that inspire people. The tunnel walk is a fashion show and you see the likes of Barcelona bringing that in now.”
MJ Jones is looking to push the sports-fashion crossover even more. Having just worked with members of the Argentina national football team following its World Cup win on a series of championship pendants, the British imprint is looking to encapsulate sporting achievements into jewelry like never before.
Speaking exclusively with Hypebeast, MJ Jones explains how his brand was built from the ground up, while giving insight on previous work with Lionel Messi, how he looks to make his products more accessible to the general public, and much more.
Hypebeast: Hey Matthew, can you tell us who you are and what you do?
I’m the CEO and creative director of MJ Jones. I founded the company in 2012, so we’ve been going for some time now. As the CEO, I get involved with everything, from creative access to the web to the designs. I have a great team that I work with that creates the latest collections. I also work in the VIP sector of the business, which comprises our top 100 clients, which are mainly some of the top names in the sports industry. I spend a lot of time flying around the world, spending time with a lot of our VIPs. So we’re always on a flight, dealing with clients all over. So that’s how I spend my time both in the office and externally.
“When you’re in the changing rooms and you see the lookbooks – partnered with the trust that we have built – players come to realize that there are not many other people who are creating pieces that represent entire careers.”
How did the brand start?
I started in 2012 and I was obsessed with the fashion and jewelry industries. When I started, I had the opportunity from a jeweler give me the chance to sell some watches, and then we split the profit.
At the start, I didn’t have the money to gain access to the stock, so after a year of networking with sports stars, I found a niche of offering a really high-end concierge service that took me to all of the football clubs, celebrity homes and having consultations. Back then I would sell watches but as the business grew, I began to build the brand through my passion for customizing watches. I would take a normal watch and add detailing to it to create a one-off piece.
After the last five or six years, I took everything I have learned to begin to create my own pieces. Through the use of CNC technology – which is the best-in-class technology that Patek and Hublot use – I began using it in my pieces. That, combined with the growth of our clientele and the launch of individual projects, I found a real gap in the market; you can have one trophy or 20 trophies, or you can have one ring to represent every event within your life.
So working on things like Olympic rings, winners’ rings and projects with the likes of EA Sports and PUMA have really pushed the synergy between jewelry and sports, helping us create something special.
“When MJ Jones first presented the ring to me, I was stunned by the level of detail. The celebration, the nickname, the number, the Uruguayan flag, the sun, the trophies, the 2 gold boots. The achievements that I’m proud of in my career are represented in this ring. ” — Luis Suárez
How does the power of word-of-mouth help overall growth?
Well, most of the people we work with are all normal guys. The same with a lot of the sports stars we work with – we all know how hard we work, so we all want to help each other grow and succeed. For example, Kieran Trippier moved to Atletico Madrid, he introduced me to the likes of Louis Suarez, and it all snowballs. Then, of course, you have the athletes, the wives, and then there’s a crossover between sports. Footballers know cricketers and so forth. The word-of-mouth is great and that has helped us grow as fast as we can. Now, we’re at the top level and we’re looking at where we can go – the sky’s the limit.
Talk to us about your work with the Argentina national team. How did that project come to life?
Again, it’s just word of mouth and relationship building. When you’re in the changing rooms and you see the lookbooks – partnered with the trust that we have built – players come to realize that there are not many other people who are creating pieces that represent entire careers. For the Argentina pendant, I commissioned them for Papu Gómez and Leandro Paredes. I worked with them on the design, with the diamond detailing on the back that represents the number of trophies they won. They come in giant cases that have gold detailing throughout, while it also has gold engraving on the top – they’re pretty phenomenal.
Will you create pieces for people that don’t get the same earnings as professional athletes?
Definitely. Three months ago we launched our first “Essential” collection which is our DNA merged into a fashion jewelry collection. We sold out in the first couple of weeks and we are actually doing a relaunch in the next month with some more stars. We launched the collection with Darwin Nunez – we didn’t expect it to sell out, but so many people have followed the brand over the last 10 years, the fact that we now have a more entry-level kind of access has helped us appeal to a wider audience outside of the sports sector.
So, every three to six months we will launch a new “Essentials” collection and we are also working with some of the top retailers and stores that will give more people access to the brand and allow them to fall in love with the fashion side of the business. But yeah, that is our strategy for the next year: to allow and give people access to the big, bold pieces that aren’t only a part of the fine jewelry.
Do you think fashion and sports are in complete synergy right now?
Definitely, especially over the last four or five years. I think the culture from America has had a big influence on European culture. If you go to an NFL or NBA game, they have tunnel walks and all of these things that inspire people. The tunnel walk is a fashion show and you see the likes of Barcelona bringing that in now. My clients love to be creative and we allow them to do that while infusing their own style and rewards into their jewelry. With that being said, we have definitely seen a lot more unique pieces over the last two to three years. That’s why I think our brand has grown because we are very different – we’re not just covering everything in diamonds, we create pieces around fashion and we’re really proud of that. I think over the next few years, we’re going to see more and more sports people move over into the world of fashion, and that’s great for the industry.
“You can have one trophy or 20 trophies, or you can have one ring to represent every event within your life.”
What’s next for MJ Jones?
In the next three to six months, we’re opening a new head office in central London and that will allow our customers to come in and feel more infused with the brand. Also, in Europe next year, our customers will be able to see our designers bring our work to life. Retail, wholesale, and the fashion side of our business is growing very fast, so working with some of the biggest retailers across Europe, we’re going to have collections dropping that will be accessible soon. We also have some very exciting projects coming up – similar to our World Cup winners’ pendant – with some of the biggest athletes and teams on the planet.