10 Minutes with: A Conversation With Rosanne Karmes
November 25, 2015
The evil eye, initials, good-luck charms—behind them all is jewelry designer Rosanne Karmes. Ken Downing stops by the Sydney Evan founder’s Los Angeles studio to chat about love, luck, and her often-copied-but-never-matched style.
KEN DOWNING: What was the first piece of jewelry you remember owning?
ROSANNE KARMES: When I was 16 years old, my friend’s mother bought me a little initial “R” ring that I have to this day. It was maybe not the first, but it was the one I loved the most.
KD: I love that it had your initial on it, because you’re known for very personal jewelry and reinventing the idea of text as jewelry. Your “love” necklace is ubiquitous in fashion circles.
RK: It’s crazy. If it’s not the necklace, it’s the ring or the earring. It’s because love is all around us; it never goes out of style.
KD: …You didn’t start in the industry as a designer, right?
RK: I did not. When I was 17, I worked part-time at a jeweler’s. I learned how to do every job there, from bookkeeping to carving waxes and polishing. But it wasn’t until the ‘80s that I realized women need fine jewelry that’s fun, happy, and affordable. They should want to buy jewelry for themselves.
KD: It’s empowering.
RK: It’s a very big thing for me. I was never with someone because they could buy me jewelry, or anything else for that matter. I wanted to be together for love.
KD: We’re back to love again. I love how not only are the words of your jewelry empowering but also the symbols. You’re very into protection. There’s your evil eye, which I hate to say is evil, because it’s a good thing.
RK: They can protect against people who may give you an evil eye, even if it was by accident…
KD: And you have something for everyone. I love that you created Shy, a separate collection of small pieces inspired by the fine jewelry.
RK: The name is very meaningful to me. The S and Y are still there, for my father and Sydney. And in Aramaic “shy” means gift from god. So even though they’re tiny, they’re very meaningful.
KD: Looking ahead, what’s the next trend?
RK: I think it’s more about the continuation of layering. Simplicity and monochromatic pieces are going to be in. Classics never go away, but they’re coming back real strong and aligning with the personalization of layering and color.
KD: I agree 100 percent. Why wear a single necklace, when putting on three takes the same effort, and you look so much more spectacular?
RK: I love that you have the choice, though. Everything goes with your moods.