Five Minutes with Lionel Messi's Jeweller M. J. Jones

Words by
Sphere Editors

19th December 2022

As Argentinians recover from the greatest night of their lives, SPHERE meets Matthew J. Jones, the British jeweller adored by the world's leading football players, including the unassailable maestro himself, Lionel Messi, our very own Raheem Sterling and Luis Suárez. The Midland native shares his love of fashion, wearing black, and reveals how his self-funded business M.J Jones turned over £30 million this year. 

My personal style signature is… I always wear black, my style is quite moody, and of course, my jewellery. A typical look for me would be a black Prada T-shirt and my Pont des Arts XL chain in silver with diamonds which I always wear. It’s inspired by a biker chain, with diamonds on carabiner clips. It features detailing from the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris and represents the unbreakable bond of love. Wherever I go in the world, people come up to me and ask me where it is from. We do it in gold too, but that costs £65,000. The silver version is more accessible.

Matthew J. Jones
M. J Jones at his studio

I travelled around a lot as a child because my Dad, Mick Jones, worked as a football manager for many teams over the years… but now I live between the Midlands, just outside Nottingham where my studio and head office is based, and Fulham. This allows me to work on designs and new products, and then be able to travel to work with my clients. I deal directly with the ultra-high-net-worth people who buy our bespoke pieces, people like Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi and Raphinha Belloli. I also work with 70% of the National Brazilian football team, the Argentinian and Uruguyan teams and Atletico Madrid.

Matthew J Jones with Darwin Núñez
Jones with Liverpool player Darwin Núñez

I became a jeweller because… I was obsessed with luxury brands as a kid: Dior, Prada, Versace, Bottega. When the opportunity came for me to work in jewellery, I wanted to create modern designs that are very masculine, something different to traditional fine jewellery which typically stand alone as fine pieces. We do also make women’s pieces, Lionel and Antonella Messi have matching DNA rings, which come in a his and hers model. Ultimately, I want to make fine jewellery that flows with modern fashion. I see jewellery as a way to express your personality, and with my football, cricket and rugby clients this is often an opportunity to express their career achievements to date.

Brazilian footballer Paulinho wears the M.J Jones ring created to honour his teams gold medal success at The Olympics in 2021

The majority of my clients are international… though I do also work with Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford closer to home, who all wear my DNA earrings. The earrings are easy for them to wear on the pitch while they are training.

Working with footballers is… something I’m used to. My Dad’s work meant I grew up around them, I’ve always been in that world. They’re always very respectful and they really appreciate quality. Like anyone else at the top of their career, they want the best. Every day is different, you never know what’s going to happen or where you’re going to be next. One highlight has been creating the career ring with Luis Suarez in 2021. Another was creating trophy rings for the entire Brazilian team after their Gold medal win at the Olympics last year. 

Luis Suarez
M. J. Jones created this ring for Luis Suarez to celebrate all of his career achievements

When I designed Suarez’s career ring, I first sent it to him in a rendered form, using non-precious stones… the design honours his nationality, featuring the Uruguayan flag in rows of aquamarine and diamond baguettes, crowned with the golden Sun of May. We were able to incorporate Suarez’s most renowned award, a pair of golden boots in crystal-clear sapphire, into the shoulder of the ring. It also features every single trophy he has ever won, so we were able to put all his main achievements within a ring. A ring like this typically costs about £30,000, but of course it all depends on the level of precious stones we use. He loves it so much, he made a film with us, which you can see on our website.

Luis Suarez Portrait
Luis Suarez of Uruguay with his career ring, which highlights all his achievements

The pieces that sums up M J Jones Jewellery is.. the black DNA ring. It’ rebellious, bold - it’s everything I want my pieces to represent. It’s made out of the most precious materials on earth, featuring 210 pavé diamonds, with a 3.42 carat weight set in black gold.

Black Gold DNA ring
Black pavé diamond ring in 18 carat black gold, £9,500

My most treasured possession is… my Dad’s Cartier watch – I bought it for him for his 70th birthday. It was the first special thing I was able to purchase for him. Sadly he passed away a few months ago, so I’ve inherited it back, and I will pass it on to my kids when I have them.

The best meal I’ve ever eaten in London… was at Restaurant Story by Tom Sellers, which has a Michelin star. We go way back from when we were in school together and his food is just another level. 

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi wears M. J Jones jewellery while training

The highlight of my career so far has to be… designing and creating pieces for Lionel Messi. The connection came through his Argentinian team mates, we deal with a lot of them. He contacted us, and invited us to meet them in London. He ordered two DNA rings, in rose gold with rainbow diamonds, one for his wife Antonella and a matching one for himself.  He was wonderful to deal with, and reached out to us on Instagram to say thank you – he is a lovely guy, and one of the world’s greatest ever footballers so it was a true honour to work with him. We’re working on some other projects together.

Messi DNA Rings
The his and hers DNA rings created for Lionel and Antonella Messi by M. J Jones

The fashion accessory I am never without is… footwear. No matter where I travel, I always take two pairs of shoes with me for each day. I know it sounds excessive, but I’m not joking. I have an obsession. I like a chunky boot that’s minimal with heavy detailing, the same as my jewellery. On my last trip I had Prada, Lanvin and Bottega boots with me, as well as my rare Air Force 1’s from Nike and Dior high-tops by Kim Jones.

The podcast/music/book I last downloaded… I enjoy Steve Bartlett’s podcast, Diary of a CEO.

My fitness routine involves.. I train weights every morning, play football twice a week if I can, and then kickboxing once a week too. Even if I’m travelling I do like to jog every city that I visit, and try and do an hour of exercise no matter what. It’s just part of my daily routine that I cannot be without. 

One thing you don't know about M.J Jones, is that we make armoured safes...  we customise them for the owner and line them in Alcantara, the same materials used for Lamborghini interiors. They come in ice white, with jet black bolts. Our clients love them. 

Olympic Ring
The Brazil football team all received this ring by M. J Jones when they won Olympic Gold in 2021

The grooming staple or fragrance I never leave home without is... Creed Aventus. I carry it with my everywhere I go. I’ve tried to move on from it, but it always calls me back. I didn’t used to be able to afford it, but these days it’s a bit easier.  

My guiltiest pleasure is… Caipirinhas

The one thing I’ve always wanted to do is… build a global brand. I’m very driven, I’m self-funded, and began doing this ten years ago, when I was 25. This year we will turn over £30 million in sales. Because of Brexit we are scaling now, and looking at a European entity to make it easier to deal with our Ultra High Net Worth clients. Retail is my next step. My first ambition for M. J Jones was to have a very strong identity, Covid gave me a chance to do that. Today I do believe we are ready to be a global brand.

If I could collaborate with one sportsperson it would be..  I used to always say Messi, ha! But now, I would have to say someone like OBJ, [the American Quarterback Odell Beckham Jr.] because he’s got style, he’s cool, he’s not afraid to be different. Also, America is next on my business plan.

Obviously I’m English and support my home team, but now we are out of the World Cup, and Argentina have taken home the trophy, I know we'll be creating rings for all 24 members of the team, to mark the achievement. 

Discover M. J Jones