For her new Whispers of Meroë jewelry collection, British West African designer Satta Matturi explored the rich culture of the lost Nubian Kingdom of Kush and its strong female leaders. The result: a lineup of bold, symbolic and stylish jewels that command attention.
The African continent has been Matturi’s source of inspiration and creativity since establishing her brand in London six years ago. “The large majority of the world’s precious stones come from Africa,” she explains. “I want to celebrate the region’s natural resources and rich cultural heritage.” A former executive with the De Beers mining company where she worked for nearly 20 years as a diamond valuer, Matturi ensures that she uses stones from ethical sources that support mining communities.
Historically, jewelry has played a meaningful role in African culture, and Matturi transforms that symbolism into strong designs that resonate with today’s aesthetics, culture and the increasing desire to express oneself through jewelry.
Modern diamond jewelry that reimagines a lost civilization
Named after the ancient Nubian capital of Meroë (located in present-day Sudan), the new collection explores this historic civilization, which flourished thousands of years ago and where female leaders and warriors, like Queen Amanirenas, dressed lavishly in statement-making jewels. Matturi translates the spirit of the era into rich 18 karat yellow and white gold pieces with diamonds, black onyx and pearls. Graphic, linear earrings and pendant necklaces feature triangular and round brilliant-cut diamonds. The designer also uses gemstones that echo the colorful landscape of the Upper Nile Delta, such as dusty pink morganites, rich red rhodolites and golden pearls. Artisan craftsmanship is celebrated with pieces like a gold collar tied with ribbons that were crafted by Hand & Lock, the historic British embroidery brand.
A reoccurring style in Matturi’s collections is the signature Totem earring, inspired by traditional African masks. The new Nomoli Totem earrings feature masks with Pharaonic headdresses embellished with precious stones and pearls, a nod to the Nubian female rulers.
“Bejeweled mask designs have become our signature and bestseller,” she explains. “They are influenced by African masks and masquerades and they are very spiritual.”
Symbolic and strong style
The designer imbues each piece with meaning that goes far beyond fleeting trends. “I’m a huge fan of antiquities,” says Matturi, who spent countless hours researching the Kingdom of Kush and its capital, Meroë, by spending time in museums and speaking with Egyptologists. The result is a collection filled with authentic points of references that she adapted for modern wearability. To that end, each piece of jewelry is stamped with the Eye of Horus, which symbolizes protection, royal power and good health to the wearer. Additionally, designs can be worn multiple ways, including necklaces that are adjustable and earrings with removable pendants. Several pieces are also designed to with gender fluidity in mind, another trend that is gaining popularity in fine jewelry.
Whispers of Meroë is one of a number of new jewelry collections that celebrate wide-ranging cultures and diversity. Even more meaningful, designers like Matturi are putting a spotlight on the communities and regions from which the majority of the world’s diamonds and gemstones are sourced. It’s the kind of jewelry that is empowering in design and spirit alike.