Celebrating Symbolism: Sydney Evan

December 7, 2021   |  Vanina Pikholc

Creative director Rosanne Karmes talks about the brand’s 20th anniversary and why charms are so significant in today’s world.

Rosanne Karmes launched her brand, Sydney Evan, in 2001. Named after her two children and her father, she started with beaded gold bracelets and diamond-set charms, noting that it was “a huge challenge to get people and retailers to believe in them.”

But things turned around only three years later when Serena Williams was featured in InStyle magazine wearing a Sydney Evan diamond moon pendant. And in 2006, Neiman Marcus picked up Karmes’ collection, validating her belief that women wanted to wear fashion but also meaningful fine jewelry.

Karmes, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her brand this year, shares how symbolic jewelry, imbued with meaning is even more than ever at the core of Sydney Evan.

Mismatched earrings in 14-karat gold. The long drop features a diamond butterfly, a gold hamsa, a gold horseshoe, a diamond evil eye, a gold clover, a gold lips, a gold peace sign, a diamond daisy and a gold happy face. The short drop features a diamond heart, a gold Saturn, a gold elephant with diamond eye, a diamond star, a gold eyelash evil eye and a diamond love script. Photo: Sydney Evan.
Mismatched earrings in 14-karat gold. The long drop features a diamond butterfly, a gold hamsa, a gold horseshoe, a diamond evil eye, a gold clover, a gold lips, a gold peace sign, a diamond daisy and a gold happy face. The short drop features a diamond heart, a gold Saturn, a gold elephant with diamond eye, a diamond star, a gold eyelash evil eye and a diamond love script. Photo: Sydney Evan.

Your 20th Anniversary charm necklace has the protective eye, the smile, the clover, the skull, the elephant, and the anchor, among others. Why did you include all these charms?
These charms are all significant to me and my life because of what they represent. Even more so, Sydney Evan was built on the essence of these charms: The foundation of love, happiness, peace, good luck, strength, security, protection, and a long prosperous life. And all of these, of course, come with a sense of humor!

You also chose to celebrate this date with emeralds. Why is this gem so special for you?
The emerald is symbolic of our 20th year anniversary. In Ancient Greek and Roman mythology, the emerald symbolized love and truth — the basis of my brand.

Do you think jewelry has become more symbolic lately?
Yes, more than ever. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been searching for even more meaning in their lives. They use symbols as reminders that “everything is going to be okay.” Significant charms, such as hamzas, evil eyes, anchors, and the elephant, for example, symbolize hope, love, prosperity, and the feeling of protection. 

Icon bracelet in 14-karat yellow gold and diamonds, designed for Sydney Evan's 20th anniversary. It features 20 icons + one for good luck:  an elephant, a clover, a wishbone, a Saturn, a star, a love script, a hamsa, an evil eye, an anchor, a horseshoe, a happy face, a daisy, a butterfly, a peace sign, a heart, an eyelash evil eye, a ladybug, a bee, a moon, a starburst, and a monstera leaf. Photo: Sydney Evan.
Icon bracelet in 14-karat yellow gold and diamonds, designed for Sydney Evan’s 20th anniversary. It features 20 icons + one for good luck:  an elephant, a clover, a wishbone, a Saturn, a star, a love script, a hamsa, an evil eye, an anchor, a horseshoe, a happy face, a daisy, a butterfly, a peace sign, a heart, an eyelash evil eye, a ladybug, a bee, a moon, a starburst, and a monstera leaf. Photo: Sydney Evan.

How do you think the industry has changed in the last 20 years?
It has changed so much. A major change is that most retailers now carry fine jewelry, whether it is designer or designer knock-off, which wasn’t the case 20 years ago. Jewelry was primarily sold at jewelry stores — not so much at department stores, boutiques, or online [as it is now]. Fine jewelry has become more accessible and affordable.

How do you think women consumers have changed during this period?
In my opinion, women have a better understanding of the importance of investing in fine jewelry. I have always advocated for women to invest more in fine jewelry because of its intrinsic value. Also, women are self-purchasing more. I remember way back when women would wait around for someone to buy jewelry for them or wait for a special occasion to receive it. I hated that! I always wanted to buy whatever I wanted for myself, whenever I wanted it. I did not want to wait around for a man to purchase it. 

Multi-charm necklace designed for Sydney Evan's 20th anniversary, with a diamond bee, a black rhodium skull, an amethyst butterfly, a diamond ladybug, a blue diamond anchor, a brown diamond elephant, an orange sapphire daisy, a diamond evil eye and a blue sapphire hummingbird, all on a chain. The bottom part features an emerald clover, a diamond starburst, a diamond moon, a pink sapphire heart, a diamond hamsa, a diamond peace sign, a diamond love script, an emerald monstera leaf, a diamond wishbone, a yellow sapphire happy face, a diamond horseshoe and a ruby lips. Photo: Sydney Evans.
Multi-charm necklace designed for Sydney Evan’s 20th anniversary, with a diamond bee, a black rhodium skull, an amethyst butterfly, a diamond ladybug, a blue diamond anchor, a brown diamond elephant, an orange sapphire daisy, a diamond evil eye and a blue sapphire hummingbird, all on a chain. The bottom part features an emerald clover, a diamond starburst, a diamond moon, a pink sapphire heart, a diamond hamsa, a diamond peace sign, a diamond love script, an emerald monstera leaf, a diamond wishbone, a yellow sapphire happy face, a diamond horseshoe and a ruby lips. Photo: Sydney Evan..

What is the symbol that you would choose to represent this moment in your career?
This is a hard question. I never go anywhere without my red beaded bracelet with the diamond and ruby hamza. After that, I would say that it is my diamond happy face charm. 

Apart from this year’s special anniversary, what else are you celebrating?
I am celebrating the relaunch of my men’s collection, which has always been part of Sydney Evan, as has my children’s line, Little Loves. We are finally doing a proper campaign for both. Stay tuned.

What are your goals as a designer for the next 20 years?
To continue to be at the forefront of fashion fine jewelry and to continue creating classic jewelry with a twist that makes people smile. The number one feedback from clients is that my jewelry makes them happy — that is my main goal for the next 20 years, to continue to make people happy!

Icon bracelet in 14-karat yellow gold and diamonds, designed for Sydney Evan's 20th anniversary. Photo: Sydney Evans.
Icon bracelet in 14-karat yellow gold and diamonds, designed for Sydney Evan’s 20th anniversary. It features 20 icons + one for good luck:  an elephant, a clover, a wishbone, a Saturn, a star, a love script, a hamsa, an evil eye, an anchor, a horseshoe, a happy face, a daisy, a butterfly, a peace sign, a heart, an eyelash evil eye, a ladybug, a bee, a moon, a starburst, and a monstera leaf. Photo: Sydney Evan.

Main image: Rosanne Karmes, jewelry designer. Photo: Sydney Evan.

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