Pushing the boundaries around what fine jewellery should look like is what Sydney-based label Sarah & Sebastian does best – even if that means remaking a clasp 25 times to make it work.
The brand’s latest collection, Sol, is named after and inspired by American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt. His minimalist work is characterised by line, geometric forms and repetition.
Designers Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki have long been fans but it wasn’t until a recent trip to New York’s Dia:Beacon museum that they saw the artist’s large-scale work up close.
“I love his mathematical approach,” Gittoes says. “How he works with layers of different lines to make you look at a simple thing in a different light.”
It was particularly LeWitt’s use of optical illusion and scribble motifs that appealed to the designers.
In their new range those ideas show up in the Optical Earrings, shaped to look as if a gold tube runs through the earlobe. A translucent choker with diamonds fixed to it gives the impression of “floating” jewels, and delicate scribbles have been turned into three-dimensional precious metals.
The showpiece of the range is the limited-edition diamond egg earrings – only 10 pairs were made. Developing the intricate 3D egg formation was a first for the designers. The egg began life as a sketch of a scribble. It was then mocked up in plastic with the help of a 3D printer, before it was turned into a wax mould, and finally, cast in gold.
“I can’t wait for technology to catch up so we can print everything in gold,” Gittoes says. “It’s a really intensive process getting all the proportions right, going from the computer to the sampling.
"The smallest print takes an hour – most prints take 24 hours overnight.”
The Sol chokers are made from sequins, but not in the traditional sense. Gittoes and Grynkofki managed to track down uncut sheets of the plastic used to make sequins from Switzerland – “it was a nightmare trying to find ”– before using a laser cutter to create the chokers.
“I love the idea of juxtaposing diamonds and gold with the base plastic,” Gittoes says. “You don’t have to be confined to conventional materials in jewellery. We are always looking at how else we can explore materials.”