SHELLEY GIBBS SANDERS WEARING THE LAST LINE
Shelley Gibbs Sanders jewelry can not be missed. Her ears are adorned with precious metals and jewels and her cocktail ring looks like glitter when she talks. Shelley is the founder of one of the hottest new jewelry brand The Last Line. Shelley’s career began in New York where we studied fine arts at Parsons School of Design before returning home to California to train with master jewelers in San Francisco. Shelley returned to Los Angeles and soon became the head designer and creative director for celebrity jewelry brands and high-end jewelry houses. Working alongside her husband Teddy Sanders, the duo's mission is to "rewrite the rules of the jewelry world one direct-to-consumer diamond at a time without losing that special feeling you get when you’re sipping champagne and trying on diamonds in real life." So we talked to Shelley about what makes an heirloom and why shopping for jewelry is like shopping for jeans.
When did you fall in love with jewelry?
For as long as I can remember, I have loved jewelry and not just because it is pretty. I love the design elements – from the stones to the gold work during production – and yes, the stones make it extra fun. I remember being young and looking at a Sotheby’s catalog that my friend’s mom had and being in awe of the pieces featured. To me they were like works of art and I was hooked.
What do you think was missing from the jewelry market before you started your business?
We did a lot of research before we decided to officially launch. I mean, we truly did research. When my husband Teddy and I decided to officially launch The Last Line, it was about four years ago. I had been designing jewelry for almost fifteen years and I felt like I had seen it all, but when I really started to look there were definite holes in the market. First, I felt that there was not a shopping destination for just jewelry with options. Second, I felt that offering was polarizing. There were two buckets: reasonably priced, not-so-great design or amazing design and quality and outrageous price with nothing in the middle.
In starting The Last Line, I knew we could present the best pieces under one roof from the most simple to the most fabulous handmade pieces that could speak to both a new fine jewelry shopper to the established collector. We say that our pieces can fit into anyone’s jewelry box no matter where you are in the process of your collection.
What’s your favorite part of the design process?
I love design of all types and I love to create. Also, I am jewelry obsessed, so I think I’ve officially found my dream job! I sketch every piece before we go into production and I’ll be the first person to admit I love a challenge. I work very hard to make sure each piece is perfect. I’m about the details from the settings we use so that a necklace won’t roll to the size of weight of our hoops so that you can actually wear them all day. As a designer, I try to steer away from having the line be led too much by my own aesthetic. The core of the brand for me had to be quality. My goal was to design classics with a twist and honor the craftsmanship of pieces from the past.
THE LAST LINE JEWELRY
Do you believe that there are pieces of jewelry that everyone should have?
Absolutely! I think every woman should have a tennis necklace, a pair of gold hoops, a diamond stud (upgrade over the years, ladies!) and something personal, whether that is a hoop charm with your partner’s name or a necklace with your family’s zodiac signs in charms. It’s the personal pieces that make your collection and easily can start a conversation at a dinner party.
Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry? Did you design it yourself?
My engagement ring was one of the first pieces for The Last Line. My husband Teddy actually designed it and worked with the jeweler for months. It was something we always talked about it and one day there he was with it and it seemed to all take off from there – our marriage, our line. In our ring collection, we’re introduced a few styles that are similar as we’ve had so many inquiries.
What turns a piece of jewelry into an heirloom?
I think all jewelry pieces can tell a story. My dream is for our pieces to become heirlooms and passed down to the next generation of ladies. I have a daughter who I think will come into some pretty special pieces one day. Jewelry marks occasions and I love being part of those moments and that feeling of love. It’s from those special events that the pieces become heirlooms and have special stories. So many times when we talk about the collection and the inspiration people will share their own stories or how they remember their own grandparents and parents because of a piece of jewelry. I know some children look at the pieces their parents and grandparents wear and remember them. You form emotional connections to some pieces because of the memories. Personally, I love that they are worn on the body. I think remembering something and physically wearing it is really beautiful and people really connect to it.
What should someone look for when they purchase jewelry?
Jewelry is personal. It’s a little bit like denim — we all wear it but we each have our own favorites. I know fine jewelry is an investment. There is a lot to consider before you purchase. Having a background in production (and as a jewelry shopper myself) it was important to use quality materials. The piece should look great and merit its cost. In my opinion, diamonds and yellow gold are always best, but I love color and always encourage people to not be afraid to try it. It makes a big statement! We use a lot of different stones from sapphires to emeralds to rubies. Rubies happen to look great on Brunettes, but for my fellow blondes (natural or not) diamonds are perfect for you.
You're known for your piercing parties. Do you think your first major jewelry purchase should be a pair of earrings?
You can’t go wrong with new earrings maybe ever! If you’re just beginning to invest in fine jewelry, diamond huggies are perfect. You can wear them forever and they’re a great foundation piece. As you build your collection add in a statement earring and build from there.