Designers / Industry

How I Got Here: Sophia Macris on Pushing Fine Jewelry’s Boundaries


Picture it: Boston, 1999. Long before Verragio Fine Jewelry creative director Sophia Macris worked at Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, or Roberto Coin, she was a confused first-year student at Harvard wondering what career she could pursue.

One path was premed. Most of Macris’ family were doctors, and she’d once assumed that’s what she would do when she grew up. Macris also loved ancient history, so archeology was another possibility.

Her first semester, Macris did well at neither of those. “I got crushed,” she admits. Yet there was one class that she crushed. Her art history professor also was a numismatist—a specialist in coins—and used ancient coinage to explain how students could learn about past cultures. Something turned on in Macris, she says.

Verragio pendant
Sophia Macris says she and Barry Verragio worked with “gorgeous baby akoyas” for the Reverie Rose Bead pendant ($3,050), which also has a third of a carat of diamonds.

“I was beating my head against the wall with organic chemistry—I preferred writing to doing labs,” Macris says. “But in art, I didn’t have to study. Ancient Greek is no joke, but I’m from a Greek American family. I loved it. That was the great privilege of being where I was. You could study anything at a really high level and get really specific. You could get great teaching and advising.”

Her writing skills resulted in a prizewinning senior thesis about classical Greek influence on the poetry of James Merrill. After graduation in 2003, she took a year off to travel, going to Greece to study language. She drove around France for a while, doing some job interviews here and there.

Back home in Connecticut, Macris tried an executive assistant gig, but it wasn’t a match. Magic happened when she got into the Saks management training program. She worked a few months in a store as an assistant manager, then a few months in a buying office for men’s sportswear. Macris says she loved the atmosphere and the male models, so she dreaded her next placement: fine jewelry.

“It was a performative interview. The buyer asked me if I had any questions, and I said, ‘Why would people buy fine jewelry at Saks?’ He replied, ‘Well, you’re about to find out,’” Macris recalls.

Verragio ring
Verragio’s Petal toi et moi diamond and pearl ring ($2,650), from its Reverie collection, reminds Macris of the lyrical poetry of Sappho and the idea of distance keeping desire in a relationship.

“I learned so much in that job,” she says. “I had the kind of boss who would let me do everything and give me credit for what I did. He never let me take the fall.”

That boss, Scott Martin, came from a family in the jewelry business, and he gave Macris the time and space she needed to learn, fall in love with fine jewelry, and grow into the role. Coworkers and executives, including Marc Metrick (now Saks’ CEO), taught her about planning and profit margins. Vendors walked her through their jewelry with patience and kindness. Every day was something new.

“Being able to get into jewelry so deeply was something that came at the right time. I was surrounded by the right people. I was able to experience the intimacy of the business and how you know your creators, you know your jewelers,” Macris says.

Verragio Vanguard Hoops
These 18k white gold Circle earrings ($15,000), with 3.79 cts. marquise and round diamonds, make Macris think of New York’s landmark Chrysler and Chanin buildings, which she passes daily on her way to work.

“There is so much storytelling that goes on in creating collections. Every piece of jewelry tells a story, and there’s so many layers and ways of getting at it,” she says. “There’s different windows of interpretation, whether you are the wearer versus the creator. I love digging into that.”

She also likes the pragmatic side of the jewelry industry. “It appeals to your left and your right brain, and you have to be something special to do both,” says Macris.

She moved on from Saks to Barneys, then was Robert Coin’s senior vice president of sales for 12 years before joining Verragio in 2022. She says that she’s been excited to help the brand expand into fine jewelry and that company founder and chief designer Barry Verragio is a world-class mentor.

“The people I look to surround myself with in my career are people who want to learn, always,” Macris says. “It’s something I enjoy so much, and it’s a quality my closest friends and family have. I recognized it in him when we first met. It’s what allowed him to bring me on and allowed us to work on doing something together that could push more boundaries and have more opportunity for creativity.”

Vanguard pendant
From Verragio’s Vanguard collection, the flower pendant ($2,450) features 18k white gold with 0.4 ct. t.w. diamonds.

In her work at Verragio, Macris continue to grow, she says. Her goal now is to help create jewelry people love and to make consumers want to wear Verragio for the rest of their lives.

“I love what Verragio is doing right now. We’re able to reach people at a point where they are making decisions about what it meaningful to them. It’s a point where you want to remember something special. It’s like that first piece of fine jewelry I bought for myself, saving for it for so long,” she says.

“It tells a story about you at that point in time, but it is part of a longer story you tell about yourself. You can tell that story every time you put it on in the morning,” Macris says. “We’re able to reach someone at that emotional moment.”

Top: Sophia Macris began specializing in jewelry working at retail companies and is now creative director for Verragio. (Photos courtesy of Verragio)

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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