Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki founded their namesake jewellery label, Sarah and Sebastian based on the principles of respect for traditional craftsmanship. Since its inception in 2012, the label has pioneered the demi-fine jewellery category, creating pieces that are directional while still honouring longevity and sentiment. Gittoes (Creative Director) and Grynkofki (Managing Director) work closely to bring the brand’s seasonal collections to life, with Gittoes driving the design and aesthetics, and Grynkofki handling the production side of things. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with the duo and discussed how their love of the ocean is a dominant source of inspiration, the ethical considerations the brand makes, and get the low-down on their latest collection, SKIN.
For those that aren’t familiar with SARAH & SEBASTIAN’s story, where did it all begin...
We met each other serendipitously overseas whilst studying design, and once we returned back to Australia we decided to take a risk as creatives and pursue our passion. Through collaborating with local stylists, we entered the industry by designing one-of-a-kind pieces for editorial campaigns. We founded Sarah & Sebastian soon after!
What is the conscience of the brand? How is SARAH & SEBASTIAN striving to be responsible?
Since day one it was really important for both Sarah and myself to create and operate a responsible brand. With this commitment in mind, we established a network of reputable suppliers who source ethical and environmentally conscious materials and an in-house team of artisan jewellers ensuring an ethical made-to-order production model.
The future looks bright for sustainable jewellery more than ever before. Not only are consumers placing more value on ethical production, they are actively seeking out responsible brands who are committed to sustainable business models, working with recycled materials and ethical supply chains.
Can you give us an insight into the materials you work with? Where are they sourced and what are the ethical/environmental considerations you make?
We love working with 10k gold as a distinctive material that’s subdued in colour. Our metal merchants are locally based with all processes performed to the exacting standards of Australian environmental regulations, which are among the most stringent in the world. They are all certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council as meeting the ethical, human rights, social and environmental standards as established by the RJC’s Certification System.
What portion of your designs are Australian made?
As the brand grows, we’re committed to keeping the majority of our manufacturing in Australia to foster local jobs and reduce our environmental impact. However, manufacturing in Australia can have its limitations and as a result some of our products are handcrafted in Italy by one of the country’s leading fine jewellery makers. We regularly visit and check in with our Italian manufacturer to ensure our ethical standards are being met.
We met each other serendipitously overseas whilst studying design, and once we returned back to Australia we decided to take a risk as creatives and pursue our passion.
How have you managed to keep the brand artisanal, and shy away from mass production as you’ve grown?
We view each piece as an extension of our brand’s ethos, honing in on the highest quality we can master. The majority of our pieces are made to order in our Sydney workshop and we’ve implemented processes to ensure a closed cycle production, recycling all of our lemel and scrap.
We’ve always strived to be a zero-waste company and by operating on a low inventory business model it enables us to effectively scale our production and reject unnecessary waste traditionally seen in mass production.
How does inspiration for each collection come? Is it a collaborative effort?
We work closely each season together on our limited edition collections, with Sarah driving the concept and aesthetic, whilst I finesse the development and production. Our office is conducive to a collaborative set up, so we always feed in opinions of our team too.
Tell us about the latest SARAH & SEBASTIAN collection, SKIN?
SKIN was inspired by one of my dive trips last year in South Australia where I witnessed a cuttlefish migration. The collection celebrates the skin of cuttlefish, octopus and jellyfish; its transformative nature and sensory properties. It materialises in a culmination of textures and shapes as well as the addition of illuminating light through the use of Australian opals.
It’s obvious of the brands’ love for the ocean... how does this inform the brand?
I’m a recreational diver so my love for the ocean is a dominant inspiration in my designs, it’s also become the driving force for the social and environmental responsibility of our brand.
We are honoured to be a Gold Supporter of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Australia’s only national charity dedicated solely to protecting our precious ocean wildlife. As our brand feels so entwined with our oceans we felt it crucial to support a community that lives and breathes the issues we are advocating for.
Tell us a little bit about the people at SARAH & SEBASTIAN.
We have a team of over forty people in our team now working across our inhouse manufacturing, retail, design and administration. Everyone is valued for their unique skill set and encouraged to learn from one another, creating both a collaborative and dynamic environment.
What does the future hold for sustainable jewellery?
The future looks bright for sustainable jewellery more than ever before. Not only are consumers placing more value on ethical production, they are actively seeking out responsible brands who are committed to sustainable business models, working with recycled materials and ethical supply chains. Whilst this is the foundation Sarah & Sebastian has been built upon, it’s also really positive to see other jewellery brands prioritising sustainability, as we all need to do our part to reduce our impact on the environment.
What’s next for SARAH & SEBASTIAN?
We’re working on our next collection and excited to be launching our festive capsule soon!