Sylva & Cie (Est. 2008) A-List celebrities have made the designer brand Sylvia & Cie one of their favorites. The firm brings an ostentatious aesthetic to the fine jewelry market. With more than 20 years of experience, Lebanon-born Sylva Yepremain and her husband Raffi, oversee a joint venture in their Los Angeles studio that creates handcrafted, distinctive, and fashionable pieces. Through their hands-on approach to their entrepreneurial roles, Sylva and Raffi offer high-quality designs that have timeless appeal and are so exceptional they cannot be replicated. Inspired by elements from the Art Deco era, Sylva’s meticulously hand-wrought designs bring passion to vintage motifs carved from molten metals and vibrant jewels intended for the modern woman.
Sylva was born in Lebanon and spent her formative years in Paris. At age sixteen, she and her family moved to Los Angeles. She completed her baccalaureate studies in Languages. Her interests began with the Fine Arts and she enjoyed painting and working with mixed media. While in college, she designed posters for the Los Angeles Athletic Club and created silkscreen prints for a Los Angeles-based fashion company.
Sylva’s father, Jirair Guiragossian, and Raffi’s father, Harout Yepremian, were best friends. They met while both were Boy Scouts in Lebanon in the 1950s. It was there that both boys acquired an appreciation for natural stones. As teenagers, the two Armenians became apprentice jewelers. A few years later, each sat at his own jeweler’s bench in the same Beirut building.
In 1964, Yepremian decided to move his family to the United States establishing a jewelry business in Los Angeles. His friend stayed in Beirut. When the Lebanese Civil War broke out in 1975, Guiragossian fled to Paris.
In Paris, Jirair became a master jeweler for Maison Cartier. It was under his skilled tutelage that Sylva received training at the craftsman’s bench. In 1984, he also moved his family to LA where he opened his business in the same building where Yepremian worked: the California Jewelry Mart.
When their children—Guiragossian’s daughter, Sylva, and Yepremian’s son, Raffi, locked eyes in an elevator in that same building in 1987, it wasn’t a coincidence.
While she always had a passion for crafting jewelry, her first foray into the world of jewelry was less than romantic. After the untimely passing of her aunt in 1992, her mother, Sima Guiragossian, needed a partner to run SN Queens, a retail operation in the Downtown Los Angeles jewelry district.
Although she didn’t have a strong interest in selling jewelry, it seemed like a natural progression from manufacturing. For more than a quarter of a century, Sylva and Raffi Yepremian have followed in their fathers’ footsteps as the collaborators behind Sylva & Cie, a collection of Old World jewelry handmade in the same LA building where they met.
There, artisans who learned their crafts in the Middle East, turn Sylva’s reclaimed stones into one-of-a-kind pieces including an $11,000 Ancient Roman Egyptian glass bead necklace and $200,000 diamond chandelier earrings that sell in a handful of high-end stores including New York City’s Bergdorf Goodman, Dallas’ Stanley Korshak, and Marissa Collections in Naples, Fla.
Sylva’s creations now include pendants, necklaces, bracelets, rings, hoop earrings, and more. When Sylva & Cie debuted in 2008, it was with a line of skulls. “I’m drawn to Victorian symbols,” says Sylva. “They’re romantic. I’ve always been fascinated with that era. Skulls to me were a symbol of how we’re all the same underneath and not to take things too seriously.”
Every limited-edition piece is hand-wrought and hand-faceted in Los Angeles and like their counterparts in nature, no two pieces are ever the same. A close examination of her rings, bracelets, and pendants reveal an asymmetrical faceting of the stones, distressed patinas, and unique shades of gold.
Each piece begins as a hand-drawn sketch and, the brand’s official website proclaims that Sylva creates and cultivates at least one new piece every day. Sometimes one idea or botanical inspiration can be the core of six pieces in a collection that comprises numerous designs.
With just four collections made each year, Sylva’s jewelry has a timeless appeal that transcends trends and seasons.
A January 2017 article in JCK stated, “The typical Sylva & Cie client is in her 40s to 60s. They’ve done Cartier. They’ve done Van Cleef & Arpels. They want something more personal.” In the article, Raffi said, “[Our jewelry is] “not for everyone—we know that.”
The hardest part of crafting their jewelry is finding jewelers to keep up the tradition. To this end, they went back to Lebanon and Turkey. “My No. 1 setter was trained in Turkey by an old master,” say Sylva. “He brought with him that tradition of setting stones the way things were set back then—not preset, not prong turnover, not polish-and-bead, nothing like that.”
Sylva keeps a sketchbook in her purse and uses her iPhone to take pictures of things that inspire her. “It festers. It could be at 4 a.m. or while I’m driving,” she says of her creativity. The pair say their partnership works because of the clear division of labor. She handles all things design and production. He oversees operations, administration, and finance.
She doesn’t let Raffi—or anyone else—see her designs while they’re still in process. “I don’t want to be influenced. You know, when it’s done, it’s done, and then I can take a breath. If they like it, great. If they don’t like it, I don’t care. It’s done. I don’t have to hear, ‘Make it smaller,’ ‘make it whiter,’ ‘make it cheaper.’ ”
They are fortunate that Sylva’s 80 year-old father, who’s retired, is still in the building—helping out as only he can. “Some of the things that are very, very precarious, where I feel like there’s a chance they might break—he’ll set them, because I will never be mad at him if he breaks something,” Sylva says. “And whenever I’m stuck, I ask him and he comes up with a solution. He’s the gold whisperer.”
Sylva never uses calibrated stones. Her most notable pieces include a mammoth turtle pendant in 18k yellow gold with 2.2 cts, champagne diamonds and 2.4 cts, and rough diamonds; priced at $18,625.
There’s also a triple shank cushion fancy light yellow-brown diamond ring in 14k rose gold with 0.91 ct., and 5.56 ct. cushion diamond that sells for $189,000.
Also among the standouts is an 18-inch diamond necklace in 18k yellow gold with 101.83 cts, gray diamonds for $167,500.
A pair of transitional diamond earrings in 18k yellow gold with 8.36 cts and sells for $124,000 while a 42-inch Tairona 11th-century Columbian necklace with Egyptian scarab in 18k yellow gold is priced at $15,250.
A Zambian ruby ring in 18k yellow gold with 9.13 ct. ruby and 0.85 ct., sells for $21,000 and pear-shape drop earrings in 18k yellow gold with 0.4 ct., and 6.74 cts, black diamonds goes for $12,000.
The brand’s never-before-seen Resort 2013 limited-edition collection recently came on the market. Made of molten metals, diamond-rimmed rubies, pear-shaped sapphires, and smoky diamonds, each piece in the collection is like a mini work of art.
Sylva’s creations are designed with a variety of precious stones and metals. She is infatuated with the richness of color found in rubies and emeralds plus the remarkable dimension of rose cut diamonds. She also incorporates other materials such as fossilized mammoth, ancient coins, hand carved opal, jade, and brilliant citrine that she pairs with 18KT gold to create impactful, yet harmonious designs.Sell Sylva & Cie All Artists