Bracelet designs

Sydney Evan Founder Rosanne Karmes on Designing Fun Jewelry and Building a Sustainable Business

It is not easy to become the best-selling jewelry designer in a store as prestigious as Bergdorf Goodman in New York. It might come as a surprise to some that the company that won this feat was not a fine jewelry house focusing on rare gemstones and million-dollar necklaces, but Sydney Evan. , a Los Angeles-based company that offers fine jewelry that’s meant to be pleasing. portable and so much fun. Even if you don’t have Sydney Evan jewelry, you’ve no doubt seen the pieces – or at least noticed founder Rosanne Karmes’ influence in the industry by the legions of copycat designers – including script necklaces , evil eye patterns and exuberant charms. Karmes talks to us about his long career in the industry, Sydney Evan’s defining moments and the secret to his success.

Why did you initially launch Sydney Evan?

I decided to start Sydney Evan over 20 years ago because I saw a void in the market that I wanted and knew I could fill. Back then, no one was creating beautiful fashion jewelry that made sense or started at an affordable price. Very early, I recognized that there were many women like me: those who did not want to wait for a man to buy them jewelry. There was a clientele of self-buyers waiting to be tapped who also understood the intrinsic value of what they were investing in.

What is the story behind the company name?

I named Sydney Evan after my father and my children. My father’s name was Sy, after whom I named my daughter Sydney, and my son’s name is Evan. Everything I create has a special and sentimental meaning, so it was natural for my brand name to reflect that.

What was your first “I made it” moment?

How could I ever forget? I remember this moment like it was yesterday. That’s when Bergdorf Goodman called me for an appointment to see my collection. Yes, they called me. It still gives me chills.

How would you describe the aesthetic of your design?

My aesthetic is classic, modern and playful. I like to create timeless fine jewelry that also has a sense of humor.

How do you approach building a jewelry wardrobe?

My approach would be to invest in classic styles first and then build by adding more fun and colorful pieces. Our signature Love necklace, small huggie hoops and signet rings are a great place to start.

You have many playful and fun pieces that are still high jewelry. What inspired these collections and declines them in precious metals and diamonds?

I enjoy taking on challenges and creating innovative pieces that are unexpected, for example, our gold and diamond whistle that actually works!

Do you have a favorite way to style your pieces?

I usually like to go for a monochromatic look. I figure out what I’m wearing that day, then stack my jewelry in a similar shade. I gravitate more toward our classic pieces with a twist, and I’ve always had a soft spot for yellow gold.

Charms are becoming incredibly popular today – why do you think that is?

I think the popularity of charms is at an all time high as they are the perfect way to express yourself, choosing ones that are personal and meaningful to you. Now more than ever, I think people want to wear jewelry that makes sense and makes them feel good.

Your “Love” script collection was a huge hit. How has this changed your business?

It was crazy and became an overnight instant sensation that I’m proud to say has had a lasting effect on the jewelry world. It all started with script words in my writing; the first, of course, was “love”, then later it moved on to “peace”, “faith”, “laughter”, etc. I now add a word to each new collection. My last two were “groovy” and “howdy”.

You are the best-selling jewelry brand at Bergdorf Goodman. What does this mean to you?

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been the top-selling jewelry brand and designer in the last 12 of my 17 years at Bergdorf Goodman. Honestly, I still can’t believe it and I feel beyond grateful to be able to wake up everyday and do what I love. Coming from humble beginnings and as the daughter of two immigrant parents, I like to think of my mom and dad looking down proudly.

What are your most popular pieces?

Of course, the Love the collection, our bead and charm bracelets, our multi-charm necklaces and our heart and butterfly jewellery.

How do you deal with people who copy or draw inspiration from your creations?

I do my best not to get caught up in this world; otherwise, it may consume you. I just have to remember that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

What has been your pinch moment since the start of your career?

When Kate Moss wore my personalized “Kate” necklace on the cover of British vogue. She wore nothing else!

What were the biggest challenges you had to face in your journey?

As with any business, different challenges arise every day, from fluctuating diamond and gold prices to manufacturing delays, but it all depends on how you approach them. I learned early on to invest in my team and that the challenges will never stop, but they are so much easier to manage when you are surrounded by solution-oriented people.

Do you have a message you want to share with the world through your business?

Absolutely, and that’s been my message all along. I really want to create pieces that make people happy and make people laugh. Everything I design is meant to last a lifetime – jewelry with a meaning you can gift or pass on – and I feel so lucky to be a part of those special memories in some way.

This interview has been edited for clarity.