When Sarah Gittoes saw the sign being hung outside her new shop, she was overwhelmed. “It’s happening. Seeing that sign just made it real for me,” she says.
Sarah & Sebastian’s new flagship in Paddington isn’t the jewellery label’s first foray into retail – Gittoes and her business partner Robert Sebastian Grynkofki run a showroom from their Alexandria workshop – but it’s their first dedicated store.
Gittoes and Grynkofki wanted to keep an element of the workshop in the retail store, so a copper and wood jeweller’s table is the focal point of the room. Its rounded lines stand in contrast with the angular space. Behind it a wall of darkened mirrors come alive when light boxes reveal the designers’ exquisite, slender pieces.
Sarah & Sebastian’s service model is one-on-one. “You walk into the store and you don’t see any of the pieces,” she says. “The first thing you engage with is the jeweller at her bench. She’ll talk customers through the raw materials and our process and then use the lights to showcase different windows that contain our collections.”
It’s a model that might become unwieldly with more than a few customers in the store, but Gittoes doesn’t want to compromise the experience. “Buying jewellery is quite intimate,” she says.
As always, pieces will be made to order, although there are some items from the core collection that are available for sale. “We’re handmade; there’s not a lot of stock you take away with you. It’s made to order and shipped a few days later,” she says.
The two describe themselves as perfectionists, so opening the store has been a challenge. But shifting the business from online and wholesale to include retail was necessary to show the beauty of each piece. “We’re very particular about the quality,” says Grynkofki. “Everything has to be immaculate, and I don’t think that translates well online.”
Although Gittoes says she’s rarely satisfied trying to reach perfection, the space is faultless in its reflection of the minimalist jewellery. Landini Associates helped to create the rectangular, dark-tinted glass box that reflects the heritage sandstone building of Parlour X across the square. At the corner of the building hangs the elegant sign: a scharfes S, a symbol in Grynkofki’s native German that signifies the double “S” of the couple’s first names and their jewellery.