Since she started her eponymous label in September 2012 (under her maiden name of Sabine Ghanem), her fine jewels have been worn the likes of Celine Dion (who snapped up a piece from her first collection), Rihanna, Catherine Deneuve, Nicole Kidman, and a cohort of loyal street-style followers. What makes Sabine Getty (she married Joseph Getty in 2015) different from other fine jewelers is the playfulness that underlines her technical ability. Her inspirations are diverse – her daughter Gene’s toys inspired her latest collection, entitled “Big” – and her special relationship with her customers.
At the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference, Suzy Menkes asked Getty how her cosmopolitan background has given her a fresh perspective on luxury.
“My head is in the clouds,” Getty explained of what draws her to jewelry. “I am withdrawn from reality, so doing jewelry is a good thing for me, because it is tangible, it has a weight. Through jewelry I can tell my story.” She accompanies her jewelry not with campaigns, but with photographs of real women she admires wearing her pieces. “It always goes back to [storytelling and] cinema,” she mused.
Born in Switzerland to an Egyptian mother and Lebanese father, with a five-year stint in Beirut, and now a life in London with an English-speaking husband, travel forms half of her inspiration. The other? TV and film. “I am from the generation of TV, so I have a real life and virtual life that I try to bring back into work.”
She might be a dreamer, but she has a direct relationship with her customers. “For small brands, Instagram totally changed the game. All of a sudden, customers had direct access to [the designer]. They message me to tell me what they think.” Are they demanding? “The word ‘week’ is a nightmare for them, it’s a turn-off,” she laughed. “But it’s jewelry, so it has to take three weeks and if they like it enough they will wait.”
This Instagram model works well for her, because it cuts out the middle man and related costs. “I went through stores and ended up in a room with corporate people who told me that my designs had to be more like this, and less like this. The designs didn’t sell because my heart wasn’t in it.” Marketing, for her, is made simple because consumers “want the real deal, not the manufactured deal, or the packaged deal. Customers have outsmarted marketing”.
A small store is not on the horizon, because she believes jewelry is such a niche market. “It would take a lot for me to put out there and wait for returns; I’m not sure I’m ready for financial constraints.” People’s perceptions must change first, she says. She hopes for a shift that will mean people start to buy jewelry as an accessory to wear every day, rather than to mark an event in one’s life. “There’s a psychological block of not buying jewelry, but buying a handbag of the same price.”
For now, she must concentrate on the Lebanese craftsmanship behind her designs – she relocated production from Italy, where she felt no connection, to where her family live in Lebanon – and continue to create. “There are too many ways I want to go,” she said. “But, at the end of the day, the brand DNA is me. So as long as it’s true to me, I can expand.”
The fourth annual Condé Nast International Luxury Conference is in Lisbon, on the 18th and 19th April. For more information, visit the website