My big self-care moments during the shitshow of 2020 involved new ear piercings by my favorite piercer, Cassi Lopez-March of So Gold Studios in Brooklyn. Cassi has been piercing my ears since 2015 — she’s done 11 piercings out of the 15 that I have. Believe it or not, I have small ears, but Cassi has such a good sense of anatomy that she keeps finding space.
For decades, I’d had just three lobe piercings that I got as a teenager. But a few years ago, I started designing a lot of stud earrings for my fine jewelry line. That motivated me to add a (pre-Cassi) lobe piercing in 2014. But there’s only so much room on an earlobe, so I graduated to cartilage piercings. Earrings for those piercings often require special parts like flat backs, internally threaded posts (the post and back screw together), and barbell-shaped posts. I was psyched to create lots of piercing-appropriate jewelry for me and all the other midlife rebels.
It turned out that making that kind of jewelry is easier said than done. The special parts (called “findings” in the business) aren’t available from my usual wholesale suppliers. Companies that specialize in the right kind of findings sell in quantity, directly to piercing salons or to designers who are partnered with a piercer. Looking for a way around the problem, I had one of my regular manufacturers hand-make a dozen threaded-post diamond studs for me. After, I realized it was a ridiculous amount of labor for a single style. I was reinventing the wheel, except the wheel was an earring post.
I was also suffering from piercing envy. I kept poring over Cassi’s Instagram, admiring her aesthetic and the surprisingly delicate “earscapes” she created with carefully placed and curated earrings. Last year — looking for a lift in the face of fascism and a pandemic — I finally said, “Fuck it, I’m going to have to wear Other People’s Jewelry.” It was hard on my ego, because I’ve avoided wearing Other People’s Jewelry since starting the predecessor of Wendy Brandes Jewelry in 2005. I mean, why model someone else’s work when I had my own to sell? But I set that aside and, last August, I told Cassi to design an ear for me with new piercings and new jewelry. Behold the before and after of my right ear!
Here’s what Cassi herself had to say on her crazy-popular TikTok.
As soon as I got the right ear done, I wanted the left ear done. It was like when you get a new carpet for a room and realize all the other furnishings look shabbier in comparison. I was able to go back in November. I appreciate that Cassi, in her TikTok about the left ear, didn’t say “I told you so!” when she noted that making body jewelry turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.
Here are the still shots for closer examination. I can’t believe she fit in a triple vertical row of tiny earrings on my lobes!
I’ve been so happy with my Cassi lewks. I’ve written before about how jewelry serves as a kind of security blanket for me or, as the New York Times put it, psychological armor. I’d been missing that feeling in 2020. While I sometimes wore long feather earrings and some necklaces during protests last summer, I certainly couldn’t wear a ring on every finger the way I did pre-crises. When it got cold out, I didn’t even bother with the feathers and chains because all you could see of me was a parka, hat, and face mask. So having a very satisfying earring arrangement gives me that little boost instead.
You can make an appointment with Cassi through her website. Her So Gold Studios is a little hard to get to in Brooklyn — for me, anyway — but worth the trip. She’s Covid-cautious: Everyone is masked, everything is sterilized, the whole place is pristine.
You’ll have the most fun and get the most beautiful results if you trust Cassi’s expertise and let her come up with options for both placement and jewelry. She’s seen a lot more ears than most of us, so she knows what works. If you’re thinking of being creative that way and aren’t sure what kind of appointment to book, you can reach out to her first and ask. Tell her I sent you. And don’t forget that if you need a new earring for your lobe, you can still come to me for that!