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Claire’s Is Still the Best Place to Get Your Ears Pierced

Photo: Adam Katz Sinding/Trunk Archive

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As a kid, I didn’t get my ears pierced at Claire’s, the mall accessories store that was everything to tweens in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. My mom took me to the doctor’s office to get it done instead, and I remember that the piercing gun they used was so tremendously loud I was terrified to have my second ear done.

Cut to about 20 years later, when I was at a party for a jewelry brand that was offering free (!!) ear piercings by one of New York City’s most popular piercers, who also just so happens to be maybe the most handsome man I’ve ever seen in my life. He pierced my right ear with just a needle — no gun this time — and put in the earring I had just bought, a tiny black diamond. I had been pierced by a famous piercer! And I didn’t even have to pay for it!

The placement, though, was a little off, and for whatever reason my ear hurt so much during the healing process that I ended up taking it out well before it was ready, which caused the hole to close up instantaneously. I squandered a free piercing from New York’s most in-demand hot piercer like an idiot.

That was over a year ago. Last month, I walked by a Claire’s by our old office in midtown while waiting for a friend. And guess what: Claire’s still does piercings! I know this because I went inside and asked, and subsequently got pierced.

Claire’s charges $30 and some change if you just want a sterling silver post, and a little over $60 for a gold stud. I opted for the sterling silver set, because I (foolishly) planned to swap it out with my own jewelry (don’t do this) once I got home. As a result, I couldn’t get one of the posts back through, so I had two glasses of wine and forced it.

They use a gun at Claire’s, but it was more like a small white stapler. When I sat down, I was… kind of terrified? The gun was so loud when I was a kid! But I had to suck it up. Not for my pride or anything like that, but because a very young child was next in line and her mom actually whispered to me, “Please don’t cry.”

Despite my night-of mishap, my ears healed really well — a lot better than I expected after getting pierced in a store that sells plush stuffed animals and tiaras, and where every item of jewelry is always on a three-for-$6 promo.

So if I had a Yelp account, what I’d write in my review of Claire’s is this: It’s the best piercer in New York City, even better than that hot guy.