Born in Washington D.C., Sissy grew up in a dynamic, cultivated home. Her mother served in the White House as White House Social Secretary. Her father was a Washington Post correspondent. Her aunt and uncle were global ambassadors. Her family instilled in Sissy a sensibility and curiosity about the world that shines through in her jewelry.
From youth, Sissy was drawn to the colorful, natural brilliance of gemstones. As a child she combed Cape Cod beaches and tidal pools for the most beautiful shells and stones she could uncover, a collection that grew by the season. Rainy afternoons were often spent perusing the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Gem Gallery.
Sissy’s adventurous spirit was inspired by her grandmother, who more than a century ago ventured to the most remote corners of a China and brought home stories that became family legends, filling young Sissy with wanderlust. Later, Sissy worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art where her love of colorful gems and early metal craftsmanship began to meld. As an adult, she traveled in her beloved grandmother’s spirit across America, Asia, North Africa, and Europe—explorations that would lead her to establish Sissy Yates Designs.
Sissy believes that when clients wear these radiant, breathtaking stones they nourish their relationship to the world’s wonders, deepening their connection to nature and humanity. Her impressive client list includes celebrities in entertainment, news, the arts, fashion and government: Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric, Mariska Hargitay, Paulina Porizkova, Norah O’Donnell, Leslie Stahl, Joy Behar, Gayle King, Debra Messing, Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer, Jessica Seinfeld, Tracy Pollan, Ali Wentworth, Nicole Miller, Rose Styron, Sheila Johnson, Phyllis Wyeth and the late Mike Wallace.
In conjunction with her family — sister, actress Ali Wentworth; brother-in-law George Stephanopoulos, the Good Morning America anchor and former White House Communications Director for President Clinton; and her late father-in-law, legendary newsman Mike Wallace — Sissy is passionate about giving back to her community. She is active in a number of causes, not only in her hometown of Washington, D.C., but worldwide. She donates a percentage of sales from trunk shows to such charitable organizations as Baby Love DC, Baby Buggy, Save The Children, Autism Speaks, Leukemia Society, Breast Cancer Awareness, Joyful Heart Foundation and Children’s Law Center, to name a few.
Sissy lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and their three children.
Sissy’s Grandmother in China, 1920’s
Sissy Yates. Photo by Katherine Butler
Kay Kendall wearing the Ronan Necklace
TIMELESS, KALEIDOSCOPIC BEAUTY
For me, it begins with nature’s vast, vibrant palette of colors and textures, from deep ocean blues and aqua shallows, to mountain greens and the red-ochre spectrum of the desert, and all the bands between. The Earth itself is a gallery of light and shadow punctuated by infinite rainbows whose tones and shades recur in gemstones and precious metals, the components of my jewelry. My pieces offer people a chance to connect with these realms in the way that we can see a universe in a droplet of rainwater. What I perceive as I bring these treasures to final form passes into my customers’ hands and hearts to become what they make of the moments around them, uniquely beautiful objects that connect with the inner person, a bond as old as civilization.