With her Hong Kong–based jewelry brand, Sevun Design, Sandy Ip is experiencing a new phase of her professional life—one influenced by travel, experience, and a reverence for second chances.
In May, the luxury jewelry brand Ip started in 2015 expanded its business into the United States, partly in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. But it’s also Ip’s second time around here, having started her jewelry career in New York in 2005.
During the pandemic, Ip says Sevun Design experienced unprecedented online sales growth—her revenues doubled between 2019 and 2020, and they increased 35% in 2021. Ip says she believes the trend will continue in 2022, with her e-commerce site booming and luxury clients embracing the idea of buying jewelry online. That’s why she wanted to make a big splash into the U.S. market now.
“Sevun’s growth is due to how much we care about our jewelry,” Ip says in an email interview. “We grew on word of mouth with local and overseas clients without much marketing, and now we are ready to go back to the U.S. market where it all started.”
Ip started in jewelry around 2003 while she was getting her MBA from Pace University. The former accountant had a classmate who specialized in silver jewelry and introduced her to the idea of starting her own collection. By 2005, Ip was selling her work at U.S. boutiques as well as at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s.
Working largely solo proved challenging, and that company faded. She moved back to Hong Kong for her husband’s work and began traveling extensively. She started a short-lived business with an art dealer friend, then completed the GIA Graduate Gemologist program and Jewelry Design certificate. By 2015, she was ready to launch Sevun.
“The jewelry Sevun represents must be jewelry I love to wear myself, which means beautiful stones, timeless designs that are modern and comfortable to wear with excellent craftsmanship,” Ip says. “Lacking any of those factors would not sit well with me, and I can never recommend a piece of jewelry that I would not appreciate.”
Now, she works with clients in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, mainland China, Japan, Australia, London, and New York. Her website sells worldwide. And those experiences along with her extensive travel, including Mount Everest to Mount Kilimanjaro, influence her work.
For example, Ip says the idea for Sevun Design’s new Petal collection came from wildflowers growing in unexpected places during her trips to the Himalayas, South America, and Africa.
“The places I went, the mountains I trekked, the people I met, the stories I heard, the food I ate, the colors, the melodies, the smell, and beautiful words are all inspirational to me,” Ip says. “As Anthony Bourdain famously said, ‘Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.’ I could not agree more.”
Starting from zero and figuring everything out for herself meant a lot of miles between admiring her grandmother’s jewelry and feeling drawn to gemstones as a child and her role today at Sevun. But Ip says the process was part of the education she needed to get to this point.
“I knew jewelry was meant for me. When I was away from it, jewelry always drew me back in. A door always opened when I was stuck, and an unexpected person would provide me with guidance,” Ip says.
“I know I am doing something I love because the tough days are bearable, all the stress of running this business is worth it. I’ve learned so much along the way, I am still learning, and I will never stop learning.”
Top: Sandy Ip uses Australian opals as well as floral colors such as lavender and violet throughout her fine jewelry brand Sevun Design. Ip says she experienced rapid growth during the pandemic, so she is expanding its reach via e-commerce to the United States (photos courtesy of Sevun Design).@jckmagazine
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