‘Less is always more’: What’s behind Sarah & Sebastian’s cult following?

Lifestyle

Australian jewellery designers Sarah Munro and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki debuted their joint studio, SARAH & SEBASTIAN, in 2012. More than a decade on, the duo has amassed a cult following; launched seven stores in the high streets of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane; expanded to a team of over 100; and launched more than 20 collections.

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How did you get into jewellery-making? 

Munro: After graduating with an honours degree in Design, I worked full-time before co-founding Sarah & Sebastian with Robert. My studies introduced me to various facets of design, including architecture, jewellery and furniture. Originally, I had a particular interest in furniture. However, setting up a furniture workshop in my apartment then wasn’t feasible. Jewellery, on the other hand, was much more attainable, and we found that this was something we loved creating together. 

In the early days, before dedicating ourselves to the brand full-time, I was working in retail when a stylist friend asked me to create a piece for her to use in a shoot for a magazine. She asked me what our brand name was, and we came up with Sarah & Sebastian on the spot. The collar-style necklace we made was featured on the front cover, and the rest is history. 

Grynkofki: From a young age, I often found myself deconstructing and reconstructing objects. I wanted to make sure that whatever job I chose was worth my time, considering I’d be spending my best years on it. I explored all sorts of avenues, including building custom bikes and engineering; however, jewellery captured my attention, so I decided to dedicate more time to this and study goldsmithing. I also felt the need to pursue a more functional aspect of design, so I went on to study industrial design. 

In the beginning with Sarah & Sebastian, we focused on bringing Sarah’s ideas to life for herself and her friends. We loved working together and had very complementary skill sets, a shared passion for design and a total disregard for normal working hours, which led to the creation of our brand. 

Where do you find your inspiration for your collections? How would you describe your design process? 

Munro: As a recreational diver, the ocean is a constant source of inspiration. Spending so much time in the water, I often find myself translating these experiences into stories and, ultimately, pieces in our collections. 


What defines your brand, and how did you develop your signature style? 

Grykofki: We’re defined by responsibly sourced, handcrafted fine jewellery, prioritising innovation and a deep appreciation for ocean conservation. When we first launched, we designed and made pieces based on what we wanted to wear. Eventually, I decided to step away from the ornamental and focus on strength and functionality. At the same time, Sarah wanted to push the boundaries of form and explore new ways to wear and interact with jewellery.


How would you define your personal style? 

Munro: My style is a blend of comfort and simple sophistication. For the everyday, I choose tailored trousers or casual tracksuit pants paired with a loose-button-down shirt. The atmosphere of our studio is creative with a relaxed style. 

Grynkofki: My style is more understated. I don’t usually go for obvious branding and wear colour very sparingly. I’m drawn towards emerging brands and appreciate craftsmanship with interesting details that reveal themselves with a second look. I live in black jeans and sneakers much of the time!


Who is your style icon? 

Munro: I find myself less drawn towards a particular person or brand and resonate more with how a great outfit can make you feel. I love seeing the strength and confidence a well-cut dress or incredible jewellery can instil in someone. 

Grynkofki: Many people have inspired me to define my style. It made me confident to explore fashion with an appreciation for craftsmanship, and more importantly, as something that makes me feel good. 


What’s your go-to accessory for work? 

Munro: There are a few favourites that I always reach for, in particular, my Suspense Tennis Bracelet. I’m all about layering my wrist with diamonds and chain pieces, mixing and matching different styles to create new combinations. We’ve recently designed a new tennis bracelet that features a gradient of champagne and white diamonds, which I’m excited to add to my collection. 

Grynkofki: I usually don’t leave home without my ‘Godfather ring’, a bespoke signet ring featuring an argyle champagne diamond. I designed it myself before a trip back to Germany for the christening of my two godchildren; it holds a lot of personal meaning for me. 


What about for a fancy dinner? 

Munro: My jewellery remains mostly the same, with the addition of my Suspense Tennis Necklace. I never take off my Tennis Bracelet, even when I’m diving — a habit people often laugh at and are always surprised by. 

Grynkofki: I usually add a necklace – either my Chase Chain or Lock Necklace. I also wear my Pearl Piston Bracelet, which pairs well with almost any outfit and goes with my Piston Soldered bracelet. 


Gold or silver? 

Grynkofki: I prefer gold or platinum these days. Gold is a great material to work with; it doesn’t tarnish easily and maintains its colour over time. It’s also malleable, which makes it ideal for intricate designs. For me, gold signifies a sense of maturity. Platinum, on the other hand, is extremely difficult to work with – although I love the colour and weight of it. 


Diamonds or coloured gems? Why? 

Munro: I appreciate natural diamonds and am committed to carefully selecting and working with responsibly-sourced, high-quality stones.  

I’m fascinated by their formation in our earth’s mantle and their unique properties, such as their incredible hardness, making them a superior stone for life-long pieces. 

I’ve been captivated by emeralds ever since encountering a beautiful natural one at a trade show and getting lost in its deep, even, bluish-green colour. There’s something special about an emerald when set in fine jewellery. 

What’s the one accessory you’d never sell and why? 

Grynkofki: My Chase Ring, which is part of our Traction Collection. It’s an evolution of a piece that I designed years ago, based on the idea of creating a ring that is ‘there but not there.’


What’s your one piece of style advice for others? 

Munro: Embrace the understated and wear what makes you feel confident, comfortable and authentic. 

Grynkofki: Less is more, don’t overcomplicate things, and always quality over quantity. 

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