Gone are the days when piercings were synonymous with punk rock and teenage angst – today, they are used as a form of self-expression by women of all ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles who have a love of jewelry in common. Earrings in particular are the piercing du jour, with intricate studs, statement cuffs, and delicate hoops superseding all other forms of jewelry.
As the demand for piercings of this sort grows in the region, so has the need for a trusted place to get them done. That is why it was only a matter of time until celebrity piercing expert and fine-jewelry designer Maria Tash brought her expertise – and her Midas touch – to Dubai. After a few successful pop-ups around the city, her eye-catching designs can now be found at a permanent space in the ‘Fashion Avenue’ of The Dubai Mall. A stunning space for those looking to up their accessory game, the Maria Tash boutique is 2,100 square feet worth of piercing rooms, luxurious jewelry, and even a VIP lounge – all created to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
Tash’s designs are worn by A-listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Julianne Moore, and Charlize Theron, so naturally, we had to tap her expertise on all things ear jewelry. In this Savoir Flair exclusive, she reveals her sources of inspiration, her biggest accomplishments, and how women can create – and curate – the jewelry look of their dreams. Listen in.
Can you tell us a little about how you got started in jewelry?
I was always interested in small, detailed pieces of jewelry and used to accompany my mother to jewelry classes as a child. My brain naturally focuses on smaller objects in general and how to make them highly detailed and improved.
How much did you have to learn about piercings in order to create pieces that are wearable?
I have worked in the piercing industry since 1992, pierced thousands of people, and experimented a lot with thicknesses, different metals, and different diameters. As a result, I have designed jewelry with ideal curves and wearable surfaces in order to optimize healing and comfort. I have designed all of my hoop earrings with different wearable lengths and curvatures based on different diameters. I also make sure all my jewelry is nickel-free and optimally hypoallergenic. My ‘Tash’ threaded studs have the thinnest internal threading and took me years to develop.
What is your favorite part of designing earrings?
I really enjoy coming up with new designs and fits that have never existed before. I also like working with new technologies, like laser drilling and invisible setting, to create different effects for more iconic designs like diamond solitaires or eternity rings. When I think of a new design or review old designs, I ask myself, ‘How can I make this better, more comfortable, sturdier, and closer to the body?’ Even after all this time, I just love looking at colored gemstones and mathematically precise diamond faceting and shaping. Working with these gorgeous stones and creating beautiful designs around them is very rewarding.
What is the hardest part of the design process?
It is one thing to design a piece of jewelry, but another to see if it is actually possible and can be manufactured in the way I have drawn. I have to work very closely with my factory to make sure my new mechanism idea or thickness of piece will actually be birthed into jewelry that is not only beautiful, but also durable. I loathe clunky clasps and hinges. Minimizing these are a technological feat and requires many iterations and a lot of testing.
What do women do wrong when it comes to ear jewelry?
The first thing I notice is the angle of a woman’s piercings. Most people don’t think about it, but the angle of the piercing is very important for a piece of jewelry to be flattering. Many people have studs and rings that sit at mismatched angles, and that should be fixed. Our piercers are trained in my piercing aesthetic, which is called “forward facing”. The angles on multiple piercings should be parallel to each other and sit so that the wearer can see them straight on. Clients should be able to look in the mirror and see the jewelry in all its splendor – and not have to turn the head to see a piece straight on.
What should women take into account when curating their jewelry?
I want clients to look online or in our jewelry cases to find the Maria Tash designs that they love, resonate with, and would want to wear continuously. Then, my jewelry stylists consider their skin tone and anatomy so we can choose the appropriate metal color, diameters, or stud size that would work best for their body. It is important for the piece to flatter the wearer, similar to when you seek clothing of a flattering color. It is also a basic tenet that jewelry fits so well that it’s practically second skin.
Does gem and metal color matter? Do you recommend women stick to certain palettes or are there no rules when it comes to putting a look together?
I think women should know what metal and gemstone colors best flatter them – that’s the starting point. For my skin tone, it’s yellow gold, white diamonds, and emeralds. White diamonds offset the yellow gold so I can see the design, and emeralds draw attention to my eyes, which I consider my best facial feature. However, emeralds don’t always match how I dress.
What a client’s brain might like and what suits their skin tone may not agree. Breaking these rules is possible, but must be planned. The best way to work with non-flattering stones or metals is through larger pieces of jewelry accented with proper makeup choices. For example, I love rose gold, but it does nothing for my olive skin. When I do wear it, I choose larger pieces and a bright red lip to accent them. I would also choose a whiter foundation that negates the competing olive skin tone.
What should women do to create the look they want?
It is good to have a starting point and an opinion as to which styles of jewelry attract your attention. It is really helpful if you can come to a Maria Tash store and work with our stylists, all of whom have experience in turning initial inclinations into a comprehensive look. If you are not locally based, we can help you via e-mail, live chat, or a screen share. Our goal is to use our expertise to make you feel more beautiful.
What inspires your collections?
Sometimes, it is a new innovation in the jewelry industry, like laser drilling or a new color of gold. Other times, it is designs of the past, like reinterpreting parts of the elaborate jewelry worn at Indian weddings. I’ve also been inspired by interior design and architecture. For example, how hidden lighting seeps out behind a stone surface can inspire me to ‘hide’ diamonds within a metal surface or place them on an unexpected edge.
Have you noticed a greater interest in piercings or accessories over the years?
Yes! As body jewelry has evolved and become more beautiful, more delicate in appearance, and stronger in structure, more people are inspired to get pierced. There are also a lot more designs to choose from. Our clients have told us that the love of a Maria Tash design inspired them to get pierced. Accessories are important, in general, as they are a way to create a new look without having to change how you dress.
From being a favorite of many celebrities to being featured in magazines, what professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
Opening my NYC and Dubai flagship stores were very proud moments for me. They were brave moments. They also made me reflect on all the years of work and the amazing people on my team who work hard to make expansion around the world possible. I feel I’ve been a trailblazer, creating a kind of business that did not exist before. Seeing my pieces worn on the red carpet, with my name alongside those of iconic clothing designers, is also something I’m very proud of.