How the Daughter of a Cartier Bench Master Crafted Her Own Jewelry Legacy

Sylva & Cie. founder Sylva Yepremian creates whimsical jewelry pieces for Bergdorf, Saks, and others…

JEWELRY ARTISAN PROFILE: Sylva Yepremian

The Artist: Though she is the daughter of a talented Cartier Bench Master (a renowned distinction among Cartier’s bench jewelers, who set stones, perform repairs, resize rings, and refinish worn jewelry), Sylva Yepremian’s love of the craft was not inherent. “I did not consider going into jewelry at all; my interest was in fashion,” Yepremian recalls. But, while she was studying design and graphic art in Los Angeles, an illness in the family left a fledgling retail jewelry store in the lurch. Yepremian stepped in, quickly finding her footing. In 2005, after two decades at the helm of the store, Yepremian took a perspective-shifting trip to Ethiopia. “It was life-changing to see what was going on in other parts of the world,” Yepremian explains. “It just recalibrated things for me.” When she returned home, a fresh path was illuminated, one that included designing jewelry that was more in line with her personal values and creative point of view. Sylva & Cie. was born soon after, in 2008. Partnerships with Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the Dallas, Tex., department store Stanley Korshak followed.

Technique: Yepremian channels her creative energy on the go. Amidst managing her atelier in the downtown Los Angeles jewelry district and raising two children, she snaps smartphone photos of patterns and designs that inspire her—from furniture and artwork, to trees and flowers—and reviews them in quieter moments with her sketchbook in hand. In addition to creating her own original works, Yepremian scours the United States and Europe for antique designs and gemstones to revamp, along with the help of Sylva & Cie.’s bench jewelers in Los Angeles. “I prefer older diamonds, not only for their aesthetic value (they are not as refractive and tend to lend themselves to my line, which is more muted), but I also love the nonconflict aspect of them.” Imperfection is also a welcome feature of these older diamonds. “I love the fact that they are cut with inexact proportions. They were all hand cut . . . they were lumpy and bumpy, and I love that organic quality.”

Jewelry: Determined to use recycled and sustainably sourced materials whenever possible, many of Yepremian’s designs feature 19th-century diamonds, as well as fossilized mammoth tusks, vibrant turquoise, colorful moonstones, and vegetal ivory (the hard white part of the ivory nut, used as a substitute for ivory) from South America. Among the many standouts are: the whimsical, intricately carved mammoth-tusk pendant depicting a man’s face with bright emerald eyes ($15,500); a skull pendant made with vegetal ivory and topped with an 18-karat yellow-gold helmet ($12,000); and a 19th-century art deco pin-turned-pendant ($42,500), made with 18-karat yellow gold and 4 carats of European-cut diamonds.

Where to Get It: Yepremian’s designs are available through Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and select retailers across the United States. (sylvacie.com)

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