By Tali Minor
If there’s anyone to credit with the rise of luxury piercing it is Maria Tash. The New York City-based fine-jewelry designer has just opened her latest boutique at Bal Harbour Shops—her sixth international outpost following London, Dubai, Dublin and her original New York studio—where you can now find her expansive collection of fine jewelry for the body. And for the uninitiated, book an appointment with one of Tash’s skilled piercing artists for the full experience. Here, we catch up with the artist about the evolution of her brand.
You opened your first studio in New York’s East Village in 1993, and here, more than 25 years later, you’re bringing your brand to a luxury shopping center. At what point did you realize you were onto something that really crossed boundaries?
For more than 20 years I attended the fine-jewelry conventions in Manhattan and followed the jewelry collections at Sotheby’s and Christie’s—which gave me a deep appreciation for craftsmanship and jewelry from the past. As I grew and matured personally, I had a confidence and comfort level in the luxury arena and developed an intense attention to detail. I crossed boundaries by combining elements of my past and present. In my teens and early twenties, I loved goth and punk music and London and Manhattan’s edgy club and concert scene aesthetics. I think my undergraduate Barnard College science degree is responsible for the rigor I have in developing high piercing service standards. All of these aspects created the Maria Tash brand, which is a new type of luxury business where fine jewelry merges with beauty and skin tone principles and the curated layering of pieces (which falls under fashion).
You’ve shared that you have fond memories of visiting the Shops as a child. Care to share some details from those early visits?
I loved and vividly remember visiting Bal Harbour Shops as a child. My first visit was with my mother as a young teenager in the 1980s. It was the most beautiful shopping center I had seen. We were to meet my grandmother for lunch at the Fontainebleau hotel, and we were shopping ahead of that visit. I remember the lustrous foliage inside the mall and the sounds of water. My mom allowed me to purchase navy blue mascara, and then we went to Neiman’s and I purchased a black beaded garter stocking. The stocking pulled up to my thigh (asymmetrically worn on just one leg), held up by black elastic, with rows of cascading black seed beads that decorated my entire leg. I kept that leg “jewelry” element for years. I still wear navy mascara, and every time I think of this day at Bal Harbour. To be part of the modern Bal Harbour Shops is an honor.
Is it safe to say you’ve invented luxury piercing?
Yes, I believe I invented luxury piercing. I have always viewed piercing as a form of beauty, and stressed beauty in the elegance of the jewelry and how it is applied to the body for continuous wear. There were other piercing pioneers before me who invented locations and techniques, but their aesthetics did not resonate with me. I was the first to develop and propound “forward facing piercing technique,” and it is core to our service offering. I was also one of the first jewelry companies to sell individual earrings, and never separated jewelry into men’s and women’s categories.
You have such an elevated vision for this artistry. For the uninitiated, what can clients expect from the Maria Tash experience?
Thank you. The elevated experience is a synergy between the quality and uniqueness of the jewelry, the inventiveness of the styling and piercing locations, as well as the ease of the piercing experience because of our specialized tools and anesthetic. When clients arrive at Maria Tash, they spend one-on-one time with our stylists who are trained to consider skin tone, anatomy, personal style aesthetics and any prominent visual feature to carefully advise on jewelry selection. This time is highly individualized and we custom fit each piece of jewelry to a client’s anatomy. Then our piercing experts use state-of-the-art modern piercing equipment, tools and sterilization. We have patented piercing locations as well, so the experience is unlike any other.
Among the legions of fans of your brand are many celebrities. Would you care to mention a few of your most devoted supporters and what you love about working with them?
I have been very fortunate in that my brand, located in Manhattan since the early 1990s, was able to reach a lot of stylists, models and actresses just from organic walk-in traffic. We have worked with many celebrities over the years, including Julianne Moore, Blake Lively, Shawn Mendes, Rihanna, Charlotte Tilbury, J.K. Rowling, Kate Moss and Ashley Graham (amongst many others).
You’ll be introducing a range of exclusive pieces at Bal Harbour Shops. Can you talk about the color palette you’ve chosen and a bit about how these particular designs resonate with this market?
I wanted to design something special for our Bal Harbour opening. Miami is a colorful and vibrant city which calls for stones in vivid and beautiful hues. I sourced some rare rose purple and light pink natural diamonds in special cuts and I knew they would be wonderful as an exclusive collection for this boutique. I created some new pink diamond finger rings that are gorgeous. These unusual pink diamonds are also incorporated into my iconic earring designs as well as recent campaign looks.
Is there an area of the body that you’re interested in exploring next with your brand?
I’m creating new designs for the Tash Helix℠ and Tash Hidden Rook℠ piercings. I’m proud of these patented locations and want to show the public how beautiful, unusual and easy to heal these new piercing locations are. I am also working on a new type of stud and ring hybrid for new effects never seen before. You will also be seeing gorgeous new, comfortable necklaces and finger rings which I love, with floating diamonds in many colors.