Celebrity Jewelry Designer Maria Tash On Her Latest Collection And The Essentials Of Piercings
In the last few years the word piercings has become synonymous with the name Maria Tash. The New York brand, a favorite with many celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Julianne Moore, Charlize Theron and Scarlett Johansson, has revolutionized the concept of piercing and its jewelry.
Maria Tash founded her eponymous fine jewelry collection and luxury piercing studio in New York City in 1993. In 2004, her flagship quickly became a go-to for fashion insiders and celebrity devotees alike. With the New York City location established as an international destination, Maria Tash has carefully expanded into new territories including London (Harrods, Liberty), Rome (Rinascente) Dublin (Brown Thomas), and more recently, Dubai (Dubai Mall).
Special Arabia recently caught up with Maria Tash, and the luxury piercing iconic designer and creator of the curated-ear phenomenon told us about her new collection, and everything that you might want to know before going ahead with one or many piercings.
The Tassel Bars are our favorite piece from the new collection, what was the inspiration?
I wanted to create a design with structure in several lengths whose purpose is to support movement. The gold rods create the illusion that the ear needs columns or structures to stand up on its own. The metal granulated tassels move freely with the wearer under cleverly hidden mechanisms beneath the rod and are securely held by the fixed orientation of the design. Each moving element has granulation and is carefully tapered and alternated with the neighboring tassels to create detailed fluidity.
What is your favorite piece from the new collection?
That’s like asking if you have a favorite child. It’s hard to choose just one!
My Floating Diamond Charms are a hybrid between a charm and a stud. I love movement and I love extremely minimalist stone settings. These studs have both of those features. I gave a lot of thought as to how the beautiful diamond shapes could be gently suspended in the air, held minimally, emerge from hidden parts of the ear if desired, and sit perfectly flush with the ear. Each spike mechanism holding these diamonds has a slightly different length which reflects the uniqueness of each stone depth, and the distance between the point and the top of the stone is precisely calculated and honored. The goal was that each stud would sit flat against the skin, never stick up, and just gently move on its own in harmony with the wearer.
My new Silhouette Diamond Spikes were born from my desire to create a diamond version of a long spike as well as integrate the invisible setting into an iconic Maria Tash design. My goal was to create something that had not been seen before, and it was exciting to work with the cutters and push them to create really long single stone spikes. Then there was the challenge of working with the setters to create the most minimalist hold to these diamonds that was secure but barely noticeable so you can just appreciate the stones, their suspension, and recognize the overall shape and function of the iconic Maria Tash Triple Spike design.
This is your first complete collection, why did you decide to come up with a whole autumn/winter collection? How do you describe it in a few words?
This collection is a release of concepts that were in my sketch pads over the past few years. Part of my personal goals is to bring to life ideas in my head and there are many that sit in books waiting to come to life. I wanted to create a thoughtful assortment of luxury products that builds on the Maria Tash foundation, but also introduces fresh, very elevated and interesting pieces.
I’ve always been focused on the balance between a piece that’s timeless and can be worn over years, across generations, but one that is also modern and current. I wanted to bring something new to the customer: unexpected stone cuts, perfected mechanisms and innovative setting techniques.
The Tash Helix and Tash Hidden Rook are very innovative. What were the challenges in designing for these placements?
Thank you! I am proud of those new locations and the jewelry I invented for them. It is not easy or frequent to come up with a new Tash piercing. Creating new jewelry designs is much easier than figuring out a new piercing location. Perfecting the jewelry design for a new piercing location usually can take up to a year, with several rounds of sampling and fittings. The jewelry should be beautiful when viewed from the front as well as the back (with short hair or worn up), and be comfortable for continuous everyday wear. I use my experience of over twenty years in piercing to know what will heal easily, and my taste as to what looks good. The Tash Hidden Rook placement had to have a backing that could nestle in that unusual part of the cartilage that was very comfortable for continuous wear, and it is a vertical piercing. The Tash Helix is a piercing that goes straight back, horizontally, hidden under the curl of the outer rim cartilage.
The challenge for design there was to create a suspension arc and moveable joints that could live comfortably under the curl and house pieces that emerge out of the ear unexpectedly to create an effect never seen before. I like both of these new piercings worn together!
Your first piercing or memory of piercing.
I grew up in suburban Long Island in New York, and I really enjoyed traveling into Manhattan's West Village in the 1980s as it was exciting and inspiring. I would see crosses hanging off Helix piercings as well as some fun and extreme looks from the punk and goth music scenes that I loved. My first non-earlobe piercing was my Helix and then eventually my double Nostril piercings done in Kensington Market in London. I remember having fun coordinating my nostril jewelry to my experimental hair colors. While in college in London and Manhattan, I started spending time researching historical Indian and African piercing references. The liberating mix of asymmetric fashion looks in the punk and goth scene mixed with the best of historical jewelry references started me on my journey of developing my own style and creating something new in the piercing world.
How are your stores adapting to the Coronavirus pandemic?
It is important to understand what steps your piercing studio is taking to ensure your safety. The basics include autoclave sterilization of any piercing tools and jewelry put into new or existing piercings. Single use, disposable needles, and several pairs of gloves used throughout the procedure are also primary. At Maria Tash, we have always adhered to the strictest of hygiene standards and we have added even more sterilization protocols since Covid-19. For example, all jewelry handled and considered, as well as any styling tools used to hold jewelry near the skin during consultations with our stylists go through UVC lighting disinfection to eradicate bacteria and deactivate any viruses. Any purchases or any jewelry to be put in the skin, (an install on a healed piercing or a new piercing) will go through autoclave sterilization. We also now swab our jewelry cases and other surfaces after the staff regularly cleans them to test the effectiveness of their disinfection. The swabs get inserted into a computer which outputs a number that indicates if any surfaces need to be cleaned more thoroughly.
Can you share with us some tips on getting safely pierced?
I am a believer in the value of a really good preview of your future piercing placement with jewelry. A piercer should give you an accurate sense of what you will look like after the procedure. This preview will allay any anxiety and ensure that the fit of rings or lengths of studs have been accurately calculated for your anatomy. It is important to feel comfortable with your piercer, and feel they are knowledgeable. Feel free to ask a lot of questions. In my stores, we can now have this conversation remotely, if desired, with our stylists and piercers who can look at your anatomy and share ideas about what might work best for your complexion, style, and anatomy before coming into the store. For jewelry selection I suggest starting in one of two places: either with a piercing you've seen and you love and then finding a piece that fits it, or by falling in love with a piece of jewelry and thinking about the best place to house it. Lastly it is very important to not touch piercings with unclean hands, and have clean bedding and towels where no pet dander can irritate a healing piercing.