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Letting Customers Try on Pierced Earrings


#1

I sell mostly at art shows. I’ve noticed other dealers allowing
customers to try on pierced earrings then putting them back up for
sale once the customer is through with it. I have never been
confronted with a request from a customer to try on pierced earrings.
I searched the Colorado Dept. of Health and they have rules for body
art and piercing studios that the jewelry must be new or sterilized.
Personally it creeps me out the thought of putting in a pierced
earring that has been in someone else’s ear.

Is there laws pertaining to jewelry sold in brick and mortar stores
and/or art and craft shows? How do you handle a customer request to
try on pierced earrings or any other body jewelry for that matter?

Thanks in advance and in the past for all of your sage and valuable
advice.

Peace, love, and hammering metal!

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado
http://home.covad.net/~rcopeland


#2

Mostly what I’ve done is put the earrings in some silver cleaner
before I put them back out. Alcohol would probably work just as well.

Kerry


#3

I too have concerns about customers trying on pierced earrings. Most
will just hold them up to their ears. Sometimes a customer does put
it through the ear. In either case, whenever an earring has been
handled by a customer I thoroughly clean it with alcohol, just to be
on the safe side. I also keep little handi-wipes to swipe over rings
or bracelets that a customer has tried on.

I clean the earrings twice. Once when I hand it to the customer, and
then when they hand it back to me.

Alma


#4

Take a small dropper botle of alcohol (methanol or ethanol) and some
cotton wool with you to clean the earings afterwards if you want to
let customers try them on. A better alternative are the small
perspex wands that you can hold to your ear and get to see how things
look without putting the wires into the ears.

Nick


#5

“politely say, i would love to see them on you as well, but the
board of health doesn’t share our opinion” or GROSS, depending on
your
mood!

R.E.R.


#6

Alma,

I clean the earrings twice. Once when I hand it to the customer,
and then when they hand it back to me. 

I keep a vial of alcohol handy, too. Twice, though – that’s a great
idea, I’m going to remember that. The customer is going to be aware
that you care about it, which is nice, and it goes through two
cleanings before it touches anyone else’s ear, very reassuring for
you.

Loren


#7
Personally it creeps me out the thought of putting in a pierced
earring that has been in someone else's ear. 

Does it creep you out when someone shakes your hand too? Assuming
someone has had their ears pierced for awhile (more than 3-4 months),
the area where the ear wire goes through is basically the same as any
outer skin on your body. So when they put on the earring it’s no
different than holding it in their hands.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#8

We sell at outdoor locations throughout the summer, mainly to
tourists, and when they want to try on earrings we say “You can hold
them up to your ears to see how they’d look”, and hand them a small
mirror…this has worked for the past 25 years, and seems to be the
logical way around it…so the client gets to handle the goods,
takes them off the card when applicable, and can easily envisage how
they’ll look, check the length etc. We don’t seel jewellery for
piercings in other areas of the body, but I imagine the same
technique would work…you do have to invest in a number of hand
mirrors though…one downside is trying not to laugh when a
customer tries on a ring then looks at their hand in the mirror LOL.

Steve Holden
www.platayflores.com


#9

I only allow my customers to hold the earrings up to their ears and
look in the mirror.

Once when I was on vacation in Sedona, AZ, I was looking around at
an outdoor jewelry show and noticed one vendor did let people try on
earrings, but afterwards cleaned each one with alcohol.

Holly Swanson


#10

Hello Rick,

One of these days when I go out to visit my daughter, I must look
you up! Anyway, this thread has been chewed on before. To find out
what your state requires ask your environmental health professional
at the local health dept. Let them do the research. I’m going to bet
they’ll take the safe road and tell you not to allow try-ons, and
that’s the road of least liability.

I carry a supply of those alcohol swabs (which have a multitude of
uses) used to disinfect the skin before an immunization. Most of my
customers are content with holding the earring up to an ear, but
occasionally a request is made to actually try them on. If the ear
appears red, swollen, scaley, or otherwise not healthy, I decline.
If everything looks fine, I offer them an alcohol pad to swab their
earlobe, and I swab the earring with an alcohol pad before they
insert it. If they don’t buy the piece, I swab it again and set it
back to air dry before recarding. Scrubbing physically dislodges
microbes and the alcohol disinfects.

Let it be said however, that this NOT the same as sterilizing - it’s
just common sense.

Now when those snide young men ask about a penis ring, I have to
claim ignorance. At least no one has asked to try on such a body
ring/ornament!! Sheesh; that creeps ME out.

Judy in Kansas


#11
So when they put on the earring it's no different than holding it
in their hands. 

I have a comment on the above as well as one other comment to
make…

Assuming the person has a non infected healed ear hole it’s probably
cleaner than their hands, especially if they have been handling items
at other booths that have been handled by others…

The other comment is in reference to Alcohol as a disinfecting
agent. The studies are all based on a certain concentration and
certain time interval in contact with a certain type of alcohol. If
one takes the worse case situation, a simple wipe may not do it. Even
medical swabs call for the nurse to scrub the skin and to leave a
residual layer of alcohol behind, which is why they seem so wet when
you go to get a blood test. If someone buys some swabs and leaves
them in a kit for a year, even in those ‘sealed’ foil packets they
will have lost a sizable proportion of the available alcohol. The
medical practice also assumes that you are relatively immune to your
own bugs so if you get a small dose that remains alive it will be
dealt with by your body. The same is not necessarily true of a
strangers flora.

If one wanted to be completely sure, get a FDA approved “cold
sterilizing agent” and follow their instructions.

Kay

But PS I agree with Daniel, the risk is really low… but if you
live in a place like Fl., (which a nurse acquaintance of mine who
does live there, calls it the “Sue state”) would you want to take the
chance that some idiot tries on 50 sets of earrings gets infected and
decides that since you gave them your card and it is the only one
that they can find at the moment that it must have been your
earrings, and conveniently forgets the other 49 moments after
disgusting (spelling deliberate) with a commission lawyer…


#12
Assuming someone has had their ears pierced for awhile (more than
3-4 months), the area where the ear wire goes through is basically
the same as any outer skin on your body. 

Any enclosed warm area on the body (examples being belly buttons,
between toe areas, and ear holes) will accumulate fungus. I have
never tried on earrings. If I were to try on earrings, I would like
them to be cleaned, before and after, with disinfectant. ewww

Kim Starbard
http://www.kimstarbarddesigns.com


#13

I let women try on earrings at shows, in fact I encourage it.
However, I hand them an sealed alcohol swab to wipe the earwire
before they try it on, and I clean the wire or post afterward. The
swabs are cheap…maybe a hundred for $3 at Costco.

karen
khmetalwork.com


#14
At least no one has asked to try on such a body ring/ornament!!
Sheesh; that creeps ME out. 

when i worked retail we’d get customers who wanted to try on nose
and belly rings. Some even asked if we could help get them in.
Auggghhhhhh!!! Nasty!

Please, go to a piercing shop!


#15

Hi Rick. I’ve wrestled with this one too, but ultimately decided not
to worry about it. But then, I’m a guy, and women may have a
completely different take.

I tried having an alcohol wipe available to clean them after someone
tried on a pair, but this was smelly and inconvenient. But I can only
remember one case where a customer expressed some concern.
Unexpressed, who knows? I’ll be curious to see what the women say.

Allan Mason


#16

hello Orchid

just a point that should be made regarding alcohol: alcohol is a
refrigerant. It does not sanitize anything per se, but does remove
gradue, debris, particles of stuff, oily matter etc. Actually a swipe
of hydrogen peroxide would be much more effective as a basic level
sanitization attempt on-site than alcohol…Even so, an option that
exists are alcohol, swabs, and double sided adhesive dots . The
potential buyer would swab their ears with alcohol to remove surface
oils, gradue, etc, then stick a dot on then the earring to a
dot…major hassle for a try on but i still hold that for health
reasons, it is a gross proposition and the other customers watching
the person trying on earrings may then question the others you are
selling and be as grossed out as i would be watching a jeweler
letting a customer put anything through a hole in their body- healed
or not, the ear has yeasts, sebaceous matter, cerumen, dead skin
flakes etc, and just because someones ear may appear normal…it does
not mean they do not have a raging case of c. Albicans, or some other
condition that is invisible going on… there are portable steam
cleaners that get hot enough to blast most bacterias cell walls wide
open but then some stones can’t be steam cleaned…there’s another
rub…so i supose it’s a matter of assessing whether the buyer looks
as though they are interested and will pay the 500 bucks you are
asking, or just playing…ultimately it is each sellers decision as to
how user friendly they want to be…good luck to you vendors of
on-site earring sales!..


#17
I sell pierced earrings, and quite often folks want to try them
on. I don't offer, but I do permit it. 

I carry a box of alcohol wipes like those that the doctor uses to
clean your skin for a shot. I clean the earrings before a customer
tries them on, and again after. This is my attempt to keep them
clean. They are probably not sterile, but have never had a problem. I
use a new wipe each time. The customers seem to like the attention I
give to the cleanliness and don’t mind the minute or so that it takes
to clean them. I’m careful to clean the length of French wires and to
clean the backs, post and clutch.

Judy Hoch


#18

I would love to clean evey pair of earrings people try on in my
booth, but when you have 5 or 6 customers all trying on several
pairs at one time, it’s impossible to keep up with proper cleaning.
Quite honestly, I think the whole cleaning thing is blown out of
proportion because I am not convinced that wiping a wire with rubbing
alcohol is going to thoroughly clean it and, like it’s been said -
people’s hands are probably dirtier than their ears. I do the best I
can to keep up with it, but I’m not fastidious about it If someone is
really paranoid, they hold it up to their ears and decide that way -
it’t their call.


#19

Ok,

So let’s do a survey here. How many of you have actual PERSONAL
experience (no urban legends, you must actually know the person, or
be the person, it happened to) with someone experiencing a problem
from trying on earrings? I’m not talking about people who develop
allergies to metals and suddenly can’t wear earrings, or having a
problem within the first few months after piercing. I mean someone
who actually tried on an earring and developed a problem
specifically because of that. By the way, I have 4 open holes and one
closed in my ears, I try on stuff all the time that I’m working with,
in various states of being worked on (with polishing compounds on it,
before final cleaning, etc) and I have never had a problem. I have
also never spoken to a single person (and this is with over 35 years
in the business–30 of those retail) who has had a problem because of
trying on earrings.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#20
Any enclosed warm area on the body (examples being belly buttons,
between toe areas, and ear holes) will accumulate fungus. I have
never tried on earrings. If I were to try on earrings, I would
like them to be cleaned, before and after, with disinfectant.

Reality is that shopping cart handles and buffet serving utensils
pose more of a hazard to your health than an earring someone else
tried on. Lick that!

Richard Hart