For many, going to the mall to get your ears pierced is a rite of passage. But sitting in the front window of a tween jewelry store while a shaky teenager uses a sketchy-looking piercing gun loaded with a cheap, nickel-plated stud earring can be, well, traumatic. The new Maria Tash store at NorthPark Center, which held its opening party earlier this month, is the complete opposite.
Inspired by the London punk scene of the 1980s and early ’90s, Maria Tash launched her eponymous jewelry company almost 30 years ago. She focuses on high-end body jewelry and piercings. You can get a single lobe piercing at her shop, but if you want a marquise diamond hanging from your ear’s cartilage or a solitaire opal in your navel, this is your spot. Tash wanted to merge the world of heavy metal piercings and gauges with luxury, says Leland Kass, the brand’s senior vice president of marketing and public relations.
“Something light and beautiful,” but still made for continuous wear.
Tash opened her first store in New York’s East Village in 1993. In the three decades since, she’s gained a cult following and styled plenty of celebrities, including Rihanna. She’s opened outposts in London, Dubai, Miami, and more. The NorthPark store is her first Texas location. “Dallas is a cosmopolitan hub,” says Kass. “It may be overlooked sometimes, and may be overshadowed by the coasts,” but Tash has been eying the city for a while. Many clients are here, Kass says, and the brand has had several successful pop ups in town.
Near Dillard’s on the first floor, the physical store “really showcases the modern evolution of the brand,” she says. The 3,000-square-foot space is sleek and airy, with strategic lighting to help the diamonds sparkle. There is travertine everywhere, glass displays of various pieces, and motifs of New York City. There’s plenty of seating, and, natch, a long bar of jewelry to peruse. Staff is on hand to talk through the different piercing options and locations, like the ear’s helix, conch, or the Tash rook (which is one of two piercing locations the brand patented in 2020). It can be daunting for the novice, but the staff is trained to help. And they’ll let you try on the jewelry (“It is fun to play,” Kass says). The store has little clear plastic sticks to hold earrings up to your ear and see how it looks.
Placement is an important part of the Maria Tash experience. If you fall in love with a cuff from the counter, “then it’s a matter of what is the best place on your ear that this is going to shine,” Kass says. The brand emphasizes “forward-facing piercings,” which means an earring placement is chosen for how it’ll appear when looking at the wearer face-on. In the piercing room, the piercer will work with you on the best location for the jewelry, then mark the spot with a pen for you to check one more time. After that, it’s go-time.
The Dallas Maria Tash has five private piercing rooms in the back, so no need to sit in that very public chair at the front. Each of the Tash rooms feels a bit like a doctor’s office. Along with placement, the brand also prioritizes sanitation. During appointments, they spend 10 minutes sterilizing the equipment, says Kevin Lamb, head piercer at Maria Tash’s Liberty London location.
Everything gets sterilized—the jewelry, the needle, and the skin—and the brand refuses to use piercing guns.
“You can’t clean them properly,” says Lamb, who spent several weeks in Dallas to help set up the store and train piercers. Besides, the gun’s kickback can shift the hole’s location. Instead, they use needles, which are immediately thrown away. It’s hygienic, but the needle also becomes blunt after a single use. “If you’re piercing someone with a blunt needle, they’re gonna hate you a lot more,” Lamb says.
Piercings at the Dallas store start at $20 and go up from there, depending on what you want pierced. They’ll pierce pretty much anywhere on the body here, except genitalia. All metals are hypo-allergenic and nickel-free, Kass says, and the jewelry is 14- or 18-karat gold. Ball stud earrings can start as low as $70 but you can go upwards of $80,000 for the brand’s Pink Diamond Collection. The sweet spot, though, is the $400 to $3,000 range, she says.
Appointments generally run 20–30 minutes, but Kass says they also take walk-ins. “You have certain people who plan their piercings for a year, who mood board,” she says. “And then there are other people who walk by with their girlfriend, they’re like, ‘let’s do it.’” Mothers will bring their daughters. Men will drop in, as will spontaneous shoppers passing by.”
Everyone, says Kass, is welcome.