While on a trip to visit my parents in rural California last summer, I made a run to Walmart to grab some things for my mother. At the checkout line, toilet paper and paper towels in hand, I froze: My high-school boyfriend’s dad was right in front of me. Desperate to avoid any sort of conversation, I backpedaled out of line to skulk behind the nearby jewelry counter.
While I waited it out behind rows of studs shaped like leaping dolphins, I spotted a rack of exceedingly appealing-looking gold-plated hoops. Let me pause here to say that I am a major jewelry person. To be specific, I’m a vintage jewelry person. I regularly scour Etsy, Craigslist, flea markets, and yard sales for one-of-a-kind pieces. I wear gold, ’80s-style drop earrings lifted from my mother’s jewelry box, and thrifted pairs of 70-year-old garnet studs. I like pieces that age well, in other words — substantial and classic. So it was much to my surprise how much I liked these hoops. One was diamond cut, another Claddagh style, and a third was a simple, lovely oval shape. Each, I noticed with delight, was priced below $35. I asked the woman behind the counter if I could try a few pairs on.
And strangely, I like the way these Walmart felt in my earlobes as much as I liked how they looked on the shelf. The hinges were tight, the plating didn’t look overly shiny or yellow, and the weight was just right — they had heft, but didn’t drag my lobe. I still had a few reservations, naturally: the material, for one — my ears are extremely sensitive and tend to blister if I wear anything made out of cheap metals. I was even more certain that if I did buy them, they wouldn’t last long — that they’d tarnish, or otherwise fall apart quickly. But the price was low enough that I decided to take the leap. I decided to buy four pairs on the spot: one pair of gold, diamond-cut hoops; one pair of plain gold hoops; one pair of twisted, diamond-cut hoops; and one pair of tiny hoops made to look like rams’ heads (pictured above).
And as it turned out, all of my concerns were misplaced. I’ve been wearing a pair of these hoops daily (even in the shower) for the past year. The plating has remained intact, the material (they’re all coated in gold, I later found out) hasn’t irritated my ears in the least, and they’re even light enough to even sleep in comfortably.
I’ve since purchased another pair as a gift for a discerning friend, who, when she unwrapped them, asked if they were from Wolf Circus (a Vancouver-based jewelry shop whose pieces tend to be in the $200-and-up range). No, I was pleased to tell her. They’re from the Super Walmart on Sanguinetti Road.
If you’re more of an ’80s person.
These rams’ head hoops are almost suspiciously cool.
Tiny kids’ hoops, perfect for cartilage piercings or second holes.
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