Teenage sweethearts Matthew and Simone staff share a love story spanning 23 years. They do everything together – including starting a business.
Both creative people, Simone met Matthew when he was studying jewellery design. “In this journey, we have both grown together,” said Simone. “Matthew is the jeweller and I’m his partner — I work behind the scenes and run the business.” When Matthew was a boy, he was always fascinated with the wonders of earth science and geology. Even though handcrafting fine jewellery was not the obvious career choice, it is where he found his passion. After 20 years in the industry, Matthew stepped out of his comfort ring, putting his name to a place — MJS Jewellery, or Matthew John Staff Jewellery. When asked about the inspiration behind the studio, Matthew beamed, “to showcase Australian made and designed jewellery to all of Brisbane.”
An apprenticeship taught Matthew the traditional techniques of crafting, and his travels over the years influenced the exquisite design and quality of workmanship. He worked with a German gem cutter for years, the European creative having once worked in the gem cutting centre of the world. “Sometimes a design can start with an idea or it can be driven by a gemstone of a certain shape or colour,” Matthew said. Summing up his journey to mastering handcrafted jewellery in one word, he reflects, “long”. There will be a tough challenge every week but you just work through it. Nothing can take away the experience.”
Designing a piece of jewellery is a tumultuous adventure, dotted with detours and re-routes. It starts out with an idea, sketching the piece, and finally the concept comes alive. From there, decisions are made on the colour and the gemstone. Sometimes clients have their own design in mind and it is Matthew’s job to turn it into reality. Each piece is delicately hand forged and fabricated, making the jewellery incredibly strong, long lasting and durable.
Matthew personally sources gemstones from all corners of the globe, even gathering rare and unique gemstones from countries like Africa or Madagascar. It could take weeks or even months to find the perfect stone. As a gemologist, Matthew is immersed in a niche field, having gained the opportunity to understand gemstones, the technicality of making jewellery and working with gem cutters. With pride, Simone says, “There are not many fine master jewellers that are also gemologists who have the skills to do this work.”
Through his work, Matthew aims to showcase world-class design right here in Brisbane whilst keeping the craftsmanship and artistry alive in jewellery. “I want to show people that we are still making beautiful things by hand and that it can last a lifetime as well.” Adding to this sentiment, Simone says, “For us, it is like leaving a legacy. See a well thought out piece that has stood the test of time, and seeing that it’s a classic and signature MJS piece. Design is timeless.”
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