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.
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