This Is the Ultimate Fantasy Jewelry Gift for 2021

nationaljeweler– Meet The Last Line designer Shelley Sanders in person and her passion for layering jewelry is immediately apparent.

A major devotee of the multiple piercing and layering trends, Los Angeles-based Sanders has grown her direct-to-consumer fine jewelry business by staying on the pulse of what consumers want to wear now.

With her latest project, Sanders is making it easier than ever for shoppers to get her look.

“The Year of Ear” is a monthly earring delivery service in which shoppers will receive a curated mix of earring styles—pairs and singles, ear cuffs, hoops, huggies, drop earrings, studs, styles that fit multiple piercings and charms for hoops—for a total 30 pieces.

While The Last Line boasts a colorful array of jewels on its website, this assortment features nearly all diamonds set in 14-karat yellow gold.

The subscription is priced at $20,975 for the entire year; customers pay up front.

It’s available for purchase online or at the company’s first retail space, a recently opened New York City boutique on Bleecker Street in the West Village.

“The bonus of shopping in the store is, you can see all the pieces together and get a new piercing (or two!) to prepare for all the shine to come your way,” Sanders said.

National Jeweler recently chatted with Sanders about “The Year of the Ear.”

National Jeweler: What was your inspiration for the monthly subscription service?

Shelley Sanders: I’ve wanted to do this forever! I always get questions on ear game essentials, what to start with and what to add on so this was a fun way to offer it all together. The idea is to put together an amazing assortment that can be mixed and matched (but wear perfectly as-is) and show customers all the possibilities you can create when you do so.

NJ: How has the response been so far?

SS: People love it! It’s sort of the dream—a year of curated diamonds, with new pieces arriving once a month so there’s always something exciting (and shiny!) to look forward to and perfectly packaged, with the first order arriving in our ballerina jewelry box.

NJ: Do customers know which earrings they will receive ahead of time, or is it a surprise each month?

SS: Customers know which earrings to expect each month; we share the entire assortment so they know what’s coming and can get excited.

NJ: You are known for your legendary ear game. Do you have a favorite curated month out of the entire year?

SS: What a compliment! Choosing a favorite set is like asking me to choose a favorite child but I suppose if I had to choose just one, I would say September, which is two diamond biggie hoops that are truly perfect and very, very shiny.

NJ: How did you pick the styles for the months?

SS: With tremendous care! It was more difficult than I imagined because I wanted a good mix. It needed to have classic styles and a mix of new and modern. I focused on diamonds because well, everyone loves them and they look great on everyone.

The final assortment features eight classic pairs of earrings, then four mixed pairs that you can style as sent or however you like, plus ear cuffs, hoop charms, and enhancers so you can really have the ultimate ear game.

At the end of 12 months you will have received 30 pieces, which I think is very cool, and I know anyone who receives them will be super-excited.

NJ: How has business been during the pandemic? What are people shopping for?

SS: It’s been a bit of a roller coaster but we have been able to stay open for orders, which we are extremely grateful for. Over 40 percent of our customers are repeat shoppers, so we saw a lot of return shoppers who continue to build out their collections (or stacks) with us, which, again, has us feeling very grateful.

In general, we saw gift purchases increase—birthdays, anniversaries, etc.—and May is always big for us with the addition of Mother’s Day and graduations. We also saw a higher demand (40 percent-plus) for our brightly colored rainbow pieces. People seemed to be looking for literal ways to brighten their day (or dress up their sweats!).

NJ: Retail has been through a huge downturn and you’ve been far ahead of the curve selling online and establishing a huge following on social media. What inspired you to open a retail store?

SS: Opening our store was the result of a successful test strategy and our customers, truly. The entire line is based on customer feedback and demand.

It’s no secret fine jewelry is a tricky category for online, but we’ve worked really hard to connect with followers and make sure our customers were, first, comfortable shopping online exclusively.

Once our followers began asking to see pieces in person or try on specific styles we started to partner with some of our favorite retailers for in-person events, which of course involved piercing, and it just took off.

We were doing them all the time and driving the majority of the event traffic, so we decided we were ready for the next step—a standalone pop-up, which we did first in L.A. at the Westfield Century City and then again in New York. Both were super-successful, which made us confident for a standalone store.

NJ: Why is this the right time for The Last Line to establish a physical footprint?

SS: Our customers would ask where they could see the pieces and get pierced. That, combined with two pop-ups, we felt ready for a permanent space. We have always envisioned The Last Line to be a brand that carried beyond just jewelry; we dream in diamonds and then some!

We have found success having a very specific vision for who we are as a brand, which is virtually the opposite of what you traditionally see (or expect) in the fine jewelry space, and I think our customers love that just as much as the jewelry.

It was super-important to me that the store felt special–– the entire space is branded down to the books and magazines so it’s more of an experience than a store.

The walls are the happiest bright yellow and the jewelry is displayed on colorful busts so you can see it right away and of course, try it on! There are design elements that mirror key jewelry pieces—a rainbow chandelier that was inspired by our rainbow tennis bracelet and flower sconces that reflect the design of our “Teddy” flower earring so the space feels very The Last Line.

We have an in-house piercer who is on-site Thursday to Sunday for piercing and styling questions. We’ve completely raised the bar for piercing so it feels appropriate, no matter your age. It’s great because we can actually design a client’s ear game from the piercing angle and with jewelry you actually want to wear for the long run.

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