We often reserve our best jewellery for special occasions. Not so with pieces by Sarah & Sebastian, which are made for everyday wear. You might already be familiar with the brand’s top-selling Line earrings (or indeed own a pair, or have given someone a pair). The earrings have been widely imitated, but no one does it quite like them.
Sarah & Sebastian’s delicate, forward-thinking and intensely personal pieces are a result of fusing new and old techniques. Designers Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki’s process may involve 3D technologies, but we love that they insist on making jewellery entirely by hand.
Gittoes and Grynkofki are partners in life and work, and started out making jewellery as a side gig for friends and colleagues. In 2011, they decided to give it their full commitment. Now they work with a team of 15 other jewellers in their Alexandria studio, hand-making their pieces in a combined studio-showroom space.
If you’ve never visited the showroom, you should. Here, you can appreciate the detailing of their intricate rings, necklaces and cufflinks up close. These days, we’re used to browsing everything online first, but seeing the tiny undulations and delicate, curved forms in their fine work is a completely different experience off-screen.
Another reason we love browsing their range in person is you can request custom sizing on the spot. “We can say, ‘come back in three hours, and we’ll have it in your size’,” Grynkofki says.
The team works exclusively with recycled gold and silver. They aim to use as many hand-construction techniques as cut components – as a result, no two pieces are exactly alike. In a world where jewellery is increasingly mass-produced, we appreciate the extra effort this takes.
As designers, Gittoes and Grynkofki are obsessed with ridding their work of the superfluous, refining until they end up with the “core” shape. It’s evident when you put on one of their pieces; beautiful, but effortless.
We find it unusual that two minimalists work in a medium that’s purely ornamental, but that’s what makes the Sarah & Sebastian label stand out. Grynkofki puts it down to their backgrounds in industrial design, which have led them to use 3D prototyping and other tools unconventional in jewellery making.
While their line is firmly rooted in being wearable, the pair frequently collaborates with other designers to indulge in more conceptual and sculptural pieces. We appreciate the freedom they allow themselves with these collaborations.
Most recently, they teamed up with Dion Lee to create lip rings and neckpieces for Lee’s AW16 collection, which showed at New York Fashion Week. The lip rings gave the illusion of piercing the skin, and the neckpieces became intertwined with the clothing themselves. It’s a concept we notice they’ve worked into their latest collection.
Before Dion Lee, Gittoes and Grynkofki worked with milliner Jonathan Howard on hats and headpieces that were made using industrial manufacturers. They’ve also been known to create specially made pieces for fashion editorials. “I think it’s fun to explore the boundaries of what people perceive as conventional jewellery,” says Gittoes. We love that at the heart of their label is a willingness to experiment.
Their mainline collections always start with an artistic concept before being distilled into more wearable jewellery. For the latest Oil collection, Gittoes played with detergent, ink and water, photographing her experiment before zooming in on details and transforming them into 3D concepts via CAD (computer assisted design).
Looking at the way this design duo walks the line between commercial success and popularity with fashion editors, we think Gittoes and Grynkofki have nailed the balance between artistic concept and wearability.
The label has just been picked up by the influential boutique Collette, in Paris, but the pair is still humble about its achievements. “A lot of what I know today is self taught,” says Gittoes. “It’s really taken quite a few years of consistently making to get here. Some of the amazing jewellers we work with still teach me things, and one does great classes for all of us on Thursday nights in the studio to share skills.”
Both Grynkofki and Gittoes are perfectionists. “If something’s not immaculate, it’ll be scrapped,” says Grynkofki. “It has to be perfect.” They are seriously committed to making beautiful jewellery that resonates with the wearer. It’s a simple aim, and one they’ve already fulfilled.