MCL Designs Founder Matthew Campbell Laurenza On His New Sustainability-Focused Jewelry Collection


June 6, 2024

Cyan Dacasin

From sculptures and jewelry to paintings and philanthropy, Matthew Campbell Laurenze’s work has impacted the global jewelry industry by being revolutionary and tongue-in-cheek with his designs. His early interest in fine arts began at a young age when his parents cultivated his mind by going to museums and stores that sold antiquities and exciting curiosities. Over the years, Matthew’s process as an artist developed into a reflection of his travels and the knowledge that he acquired from history, culture, and the masters that he met. The inspiration behind his objets d’arts, sculptures, and jewelry merges the colorful influence of the East with the timelessness of the West through a series of designs using semi and precious stones along with metals such as gold and silver. 

After establishing MCL Designs, Matthew’s studio, located in the center of Bangkok’s lively Silom district, has been his second home for the past twenty-five years. Since its inception, Matthew has ensured that his work with MCL Designs has always been at the forefront of innovation and creativity in producing intricately handcrafted, wearable art and sculpture for adventurous spirits. Meticulous craftsmanship and impeccable quality are the hallmarks of this labor-intensive yet sustainable fine jewelry and bespoke objets d’art brand.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Matthew about his latest collection, sustainability, and philosophy of art and design. 

What inspired you to create your upcoming jewelry line?

The beauty and color of the natural world inspired this latest handcrafted MCL Design fine jewelry collection. It is facilitated by an innovative, new, and unusual combination of materials.

Could you describe the overarching concept or theme behind the collection? 

I have always been obsessed with nature, its patterns, colors, and behaviors. From the macro to the micro, even the minutiae have always fascinated my mind and played out in myriad ways on my sketchpad. Then, emerge in vivid ways within my designs, which are almost always multi-faceted.

I marvel at the capacity of the natural world, without human intervention, to move in unison to achieve a harmonious balance in a constant state of birth, growth, and renewal. From the complex limbs and torsos of bugs to the exacting makeup of individual flowers, I remain a student of nature’s glory. As an ode to its beauty and color, with MCL Design, I’ve presented these exacting designs inspired, in part or whole, by flora and fauna.

Were there any specific experiences or influences that sparked the design process for this line? Can you walk us through your creative process from imagination to final product?  What are some distinctive features or signature elements that define this collection?

I focus on the aesthetics, form, and function of MCL Design’s fine jewelry whilst creating my designs. As always, there are no computer-generated images or 3D renderings – everything processes from my brain to my sketchpad. It evolves during development to ensure form, function, and aesthetics meld seamlessly. References include refined petals, stamens, anatomically correct claws and articulated limbs, whole flowers, insects, amphibians, and other fascinating beings replicated down to the most delicate lines. A network of hundreds of artisans has carefully and painstakingly touched each labor-intensive piece to accurately reflect every minute natural detail accurately, often involving an entire week or more of hand-shaping each piece of jeweled art to perfection, just as nature intended.

Meticulous traditional craftsmanship continues to be the cornerstone of each MCL Design piece of jewelry. Innovating in new design combinations of mixed metals, including 18K gold and silver, we present a trailblazing, handcrafted fine jewelry collection.

How do you balance aesthetic appeal with practicality and wearability in your designs? 

This collection benefits from the addition of lightweight, hypoallergenic, anodized aluminum, combined with silver and gold, precious and semi-precious gemstones in a wide variety of colors. We created a proprietary alloy for maximum color absorption, allowing clients to express their individuality further, wear their jewelry for extended periods, and expect the same luxury, uniqueness, and exacting standards devoted to each MCL Design creation.

Did you encounter any challenges or obstacles during the design phase, and if so, how did you overcome them? Are there any new or innovative techniques you’ve incorporated into these designs? 

Aluminum is sustainable, low-density, versatile, and looks almost identical to silver, and when anodized, it has a strength akin to a diamond. However, due to the difficulty of working with it and specialized tool requirements, few jewelers and artisans have been experimenting with its use in high-end handcrafted jewelry. Yet, aluminum is the future material in fine jewelry when combined with precious metals and gemstones, primarily because of its ability to take color. I knew that all the challenges of working with this material were worth overcoming to deliver this latest collection – the intrinsic design value and possibilities for creativity achievable in adapting this material for high jewelry are priceless.

Highly sustainable: for this eco-friendly, recyclable metal, it is estimated that over 80% of all aluminum ever mined remains in circulation today. In the US alone, over 40% is recycled. Lightweight: One-third the weight of sterling silver, aluminum makes for super-lightweight fine jewelry when combined with other precious and semi-precious resources. This makes aluminum ideally suited to large sculptural pieces and or layering of jewelry without the weight and ensuing discomfort from wearing creative designs. Furthermore, many have struggled with the weight of even simple earrings made from heavier precious metals and feel their earlobes straining over time. With aluminum, this drag can be much lessened. Significantly improved comfort while wearing showier earrings, whether pierced or clip-on, can be achieved. Durable: Anodizing aluminum creates a tough outer shell. The anodizing process for aluminum ensures its structure is durable and robust. The strength attained has been likened to that of a diamond. Although tricky to manipulate in artisanal and handcrafted fine jewelry and requiring a highly lengthy creative process, aluminum is both ductile and malleable. Those few mastering the handcrafting of aluminum jewelry can configure lasting delicate, defined shapes and forms previously unimaginable or unpredictable. The finished product’s intrinsic design value and durability, combined with precious metals and gemstones, surpass that of plain gold or platinum jewelry. Non-tarnishing: Anodizing aluminum also increases resistance to corrosion and material stability, which means it is ideally suited to stand up to general wear and tear. Caring for aluminum in jewelry is more manageable than with traditional jewelry. Non-toxic: Aluminum contains no nickel, copper, lead, or iron, making it non-toxic and safe to wear as jewelry against the skin, so it is excitingly deemed ‘hypoallergenic.’ Except for the rarest metal allergies, aluminum is a fantastic alternative for those who suffer from most regular jewelry allergies. Color-absorbing: The silver-hued sheen of aluminum makes it silver’s most identical lookalike. However, the anodizing process and our proprietary alloy allow aluminum to be transformed into almost any color imaginable – a designer’s dream! The color is absorbed and sealed many layers deep, meaning it will not chip off or fade as some enamels, paints, and other plating treatments can do over time.

How do you ensure the quality and sustainability of the materials used in your jewelry? What steps do you take to ensure transparency and accountability throughout your supply chain? Have you undertaken any initiatives or partnerships to promote sustainability and responsible manufacturing?

Combining anodized aluminum in fine jewelry presents an exciting innovation and opens up endless possibilities for the luxury jewelry world. As one large, heavy sculptural jewelry takes on a more wearable levity, all-day favorite statement pieces are still as stunning yet more comfortable and enjoyable to brandish. For me, being able to play with the most outrageous of ideas and colors, with little regard for restrictive weight concerns, the sky’s the limit for adorning and accentuating the most individual and color-filled expression of personal style, fit for any occasion, all whilst being more sustainable and environmentally responsible. Creating small batches and limited runs of my jewelry can stringently control the quality, integrity, and sustainability of my designs, which is how I have always worked. The same applies to sourcing our materials from a network of vetted suppliers and artists focused on sustaining local and traditional craft and techniques. 

Lastly, Are there any collaborations or special projects on the horizon that relate to this collection? 

There is so much in the pipeline right now! We are excited to have the MCL Design Cabinet of Curiosities shop-in-shop at Bergdorf Goodman NYC, which will be rolled out in other stores soon… This nomadic concept is a unique collection of bespoke handcrafted MCL Design home decor, objets, and fine jewelry. 

I can’t divulge too many secrets just yet, but watch this space—we have some other exciting collaborations coming up soon!

Keep up with Matthew by following him at @matthew_campbell_laurenza and visit his website:


Written by Cyan Leigh Dacasin | @xmissperegrinex

Photography courtesy of Matthew Campbell Laurenza