I’m not going to lie – I was feeling nervous when I arrived at the Paddington flagship of Sydney jeweller Sarah & Sebastian to experience its new piercing lab.
I have four holes in my lobes (two each side) but they were done so long ago I don’t even remember if it hurt or if it was stressful. Either way, a hole was going to be inserted in my ear, which meant it wasn’t a run-of-the-mill day.
“That makes sense,” head piercer Malcolm Johnston says when I relay my unease. “You’ve only just met me and it’s all a bit unknown.”
At this point we’re standing in the striking, grey-toned piercing room. We arrived here by taking the backdoor of the Paddington store, descending a level by elevator and walking along a short, non-descript cement-lined corridor (the type you find in the guts of office buildings).
That means we’re one level below busy Oxford Street, and it’s calm and quiet. At one end of the narrow space is a reclining leather chair – which, it would seem, is where The Piercing is going to happen.
I’m offered a bottle of water and we chat about which earrings take my fancy. As in the boutique upstairs, there are drawers and discreet jewellery display cases. The earrings are all 18-carat yellow gold, some with pendants that feature diamonds and opals, one shaped like a shark, another like a wave and some clusters of dots. The idea is you mix and match earrings rather than get two the same.
“Our focus is on ‘ear alchemy’ – unique combinations of ear piercings to transform the ear, with up to three piercings conducted in any one appointment,” Sarah & Sebastian creative director Sarah Munro tells me later.
I choose one and its placement (at the outer edge of my upper lobe) and we head to The Chair. I slide on and Johnston begins to prepare everything. He calmly talks me through the process, explaining the studio uses sterile, single-use needles rather than piercing guns because it allows for greater precision in placements. It’s also safer in terms of hygiene and impact to the ear.
When it comes time to pop my new golden friend in, Johnston asks me to breathe in – and on the third breath out, he gently pushes the needle through my lobe. It doesn’t hurt, surprisingly, and minutes later we’re sitting at a table chatting about aftercare and I’m feeling pretty happy with my earring decision.
I’m handed a guide of essential info and told it should take about two to four months to heal. We run through what levels of redness and soreness to expect (not too much) and I’m told that if I have any questions – even totally silly ones – to just email, call or pop by.
“We also offer a downsize service, starting from $30, where clients can have their [earring] post changed over for added comfort and to aid the healing process,” says Munro.
We head upstairs again and book in a complimentary follow-up appointment for two weeks’ time, so they can see how it’s healing. And I walk back out into the world happy and with a new hole in my ear.
Sarah & Sebastian’s piercing lab specialises in ear piercing, and plans to introduce other body piercings in the future. A single piercing is $80, with additional piercing for $20. Jewellery starts from $180. Piercings are available at the Paddington store (261–265 Oxford Street) Monday to Sunday, and at its Mecca counter (49-51 Market Street, Sydney) Wednesday to Saturday.