Australia has a vibrant jewellery design scene and is one of the leaders in the brand Sarah & Sebastian, founded by Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki. What started as a small business run in their free time, alongside their full-time jobs, has now grown into a reputable jeweller with more than 40 employees working across various aspects of the business.
Gittoes and Grynkofki met in 2008 when they were both on exchange in Canada at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Gittoes studied design at the University of New South Wales, and Grynkofki, who comes from Germany, studied industrial design and goldsmithing in Schwäbisch Gmünd, a town in south-eastern Germany roughly 40 minutes from Stuttgart. Whilst on exchange, they came up with the idea of starting a brand together, and within the next couple of years, they finished their studies, Grynkofki moved to Sydney, and they founded Sarah & Sebastian in 2012.
Together they worked in their spare time, slowly growing the brand and increasing their customer base. Even the initial years of the business predicted the success that they were going to have, with Australian designer brands wanting to use them for their campaigns and shows. Two notable partnerships they had early on were with Hatmaker and Dion Lee, who wanted to use their jewellery in their famous show at the Sydney Opera House in 2012. However, it wasn’t until 2014, when the business became too much, that they quit their full-time jobs to begin working wholly on Sarah & Sebastian. Since then, Dion Lee featured their jewellery in his New York Fashion Week show, and they were awarded the Prix de Marie Claire for Best Australian Accessories Brand.
At Sarah & Sebastian, they have maintained a strong sense of their ethics and beliefs throughout their nine years of operating. Like many brands directed at a younger audience, they care tremendously about sustainability and reducing their environmental impact. One of the actions they have taken to reduce their environmental impact is having the majority of their production happen in Australia; there is only a minority of hand-produced items in Italy due to the needed techniques. Moreover, they have carefully chosen their suppliers to ensure they use ethically sourced stones and, where possible, they use recycled raw materials.
Another of Sarah & Sebastian’s beliefs is that they should constantly challenge ‘traditional’ jewellery. Their manufacturing techniques, which includes traditional goldsmithing techniques, and their conceptual designs allow them to be innovative and consistent predict the market and preempt trends. Gittoes and Grynkofki draw on different elements important to them for the conceptual designs. Throughout their works, the most prominent feature on show is the ocean, which is a massive influence for Gittoes, who is also an amateur diver. Although Grynkofki also draws inspiration from nature, his most significant influence comes from his heritage, with European architecture and art featuring heavily in his designs. Their love for the ocean is also demonstrated because they are gold supporters of the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
Sarah & Sebastian continue to produce forward-thinking and beautiful jewellery, and for the years to come, they shall continue to be one the best Australian jewellers.