LONG BEACH- (562) 363-5003 / 1180 N. Studebaker Rd. #G, Long Beach, CA 90815 Piercing Services are from 11am to 7pm each day except for holidays. Please scroll down for information for our Torrance services.

5 Years of the Jewelry Drought

Once upon a time, a piercer in the U.S. could call or email an order to a jewelry designer on a Monday or Tuesday and have their jewelry by the end of the week. In 2019 we’ll remember those times as the good old days. Right around five years ago, Things started to change for the worse, and it isn’t likely getting better anytime soon.

We first wrote about this in our monthly email in November of 2016. As 2019 has arrived, the wait time for our jewelry is only increasing. This affects you and us both, so we’ll re-address it here and try to keep it positive. For the last three or more decades of professional piercing, very few studios used high quality jewelry. There were many places you could go to for piercing, but the options for buying great jewelry were limited.

 

 

 

 

In recent years piercing has gained a tremendous amount of popularity. That’s great. It legitimizes piercing as a career and keeps some of our studios busy. Jewelry designers have spent a lot of time and energy to innovate and improve the overall appeal of their products. That’s great too. Better looking jewelry sells itself.

 

 

For example:

Here’s what your septum jewelry probably looked like 10 years ago.

 

 

 

 

Here’s what your septum jewelry might look like now.

 

 

 

The internet is also a major factor. Social media allows people from around the world to see piercing and jewelry images also from around the world. If piercers and clients are posting great pictures of great piercings that’s what we all see. Online forums, in places like Facebook, can have thousands of members. Not many piercers are willing to post images of their work if they’re not using high quality jewelry. So what do they do? They start selling the good stuff in an effort to catch up to the rest of us.
Some piercers say the industry shot itself in the foot. Piercers like us (APP members) have promoted the virtues of quality jewelry for many years. Back when few piercers used the high-end options this was as great for marketing as much as it was a public service announcement. In those days the quality of the jewelry was a reliable indicator of the quality of the piercer. Today, so many piercers use the top name jewelry brands it’s harder to stand out. It’s 2019 and peer pressure has succeeded. Every piercer wants to use good jewelry.

So here’s the catch. While piercing is definitely in a boom, it doesn’t mean that every shop is super busy, there are enough studios to meet the demand. It’s the jewelry manufacturers that are unable to meet the need for their products that’s been building for five or more years. More piercers buying their products means more effort for them to meet the demand. To be fair, how much money should they invest in a manufacturing bubble that’s bound to burst at some point?

They know our clients want their jewelry. Every time a piercing client complains to a studio about the wait time for their jewelry that complaint gets forwarded to the manufacturer. It’s no secret the manufacturing delays are terrible for piercing studios. This jewelry shortage is across the board with all the major players on the manufacturing end. There’s a 100% chance that any company making jewelry that meets APP initial jewelry standards is behind schedule, and not just by a few days or weeks, it’s usually months. The truth is, they’re trying to address it. These designers have all taken steps to boost productivity, and we’re grateful.
What’s the problem? Outside of sheer volume, it’s generally in the gem setting process. Some of the manufacturing is computerized, but much of it is still done manually. All the little gems we wear are set by hand. So as the jewelry has gotten fancier with intricate detail and gem settings, it’s also gotten slower to produce. That’s the trade off perhaps. Nicer jewelry takes more time to create. Multiply that by the number of pieces a company needs to provide. With the always increasing number of designs it seems there’s no real relief in sight.

So what are our options? This is difficult. Piercing studios now have to predict their needs months in advance. Like many industries, we have seasons. We know we’ll do more navel and nipple piercings in the winter months, so the jewelry we need in stock at that time needs to be suitable for these fresh piercings. In the summer months we’ll do less of these specific piercings, but we’ll sell more jewelry for these same piercings when they’re better healed and clients are looking for a change. What we can’t predict however 3 or 4 months in advance is what designs will be in demand, because new styles are created regularly and become popular once they’re posted online. Studios can only order larger quantities of their most necessary items and larger orders are slower to fill. At New Flower Studio in Long Beach we’ve increased our inventory of the basics. We have plenty of threaded steel and titanium barbells and rings in stock. We aren’t likely to run out of these items in 2019. Last year we greatly expanded our fancier jewelry options, adding some new designers with a lot to offer and reducing or eliminating our ordering from others.
We certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from buying the jewelry they love and want to wear. But special orders for jewelry is one of the hardships we face with these long waits. So we do our best to have a wide variety in stock. You might have noticed, for example, the increase in rose gold and white gold on our shelves in the last year. These don’t traditionally sell as often as yellow gold, but we have purchased more than ever before to minimize the need for special orders. Keep in mind no studio can have everything in stock and we all want to help you wear the jewelry you want. We’re in southern California, the birthplace of modern body piercing. There are more studios here than probably anywhere else in the world. If you end up needing to do a custom order any studio is happy to help. Just be aware that the delivery time may possibly be four months or more.
Above is a photo of a sticker that’s popular with piercers.
This was created about a year ago and is more relevant now than then.
John Johnson
John Johnson is a professional body piercer at New Flower Studio in Long Beach, CA. He's also a Red Cross instructor and authorized OSHA trainer. He manages the online curriculum for the Association of Professional Piercers and is a member of ASTM International.