By Ashley Davis
Bleecker & Prince jewelry designer Leehe Segal teamed up with registered nurse and owner of Clinical Ear Piercing Rachel Smith on “My First Earrings,” a collection of infant and kid-friendly fine jewelry.
New York-- Bleecker & Prince jewelry designer Leehe Segal and Rachel Smith, nurse and owner of Clinical Ear Piercing, know that an appreciation of shiny things starts at a young age, and they’re ready to serve that market.

Segal and Smith have created “My First Earrings,” a line of 18-karat gold jewelry created specifically with the needs of babies and kids in mind.
20170418 MyFirstEarrings insert1Bleecker & Prince designer Leehe Segal
“My First Earrings” came about when Smith was shopping for Bleecker & Prince jewelry at a holiday pop-up shop. Smith told Segal that her ear piercing clients were dissatisfied with the jewelry available for their children and asked if Segal would be willing to make custom earrings for them.

Instead, the two dreamed up an entire collection.

Smith, a registered pediatric nurse, developed a reputation for expertly piercing newborn babies and children, so much so that in 2014 she founded a company dedicated to the service, Clinical Ear Piercing.

During the week Smith makes private house calls (she’s become a go-to for celebrity moms), and on the weekends, parents see her by appointment at her studio in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood.

Smith’s services have garnered such a following that clients come from overseas just to have her pierce their children’s ears.

“I’m one of the few people who focuses on one square inch of the human body,” Smith explained to National Jeweler. “It’s all I do. It’s all I think about. My entire business is focused on that.”

Smith uses a piercing gun rather than a needle because of the former’s stability, which is essential with infants in particular.

She also uses disposable FDA-approved, implant-grade titanium earrings, which are only available to registered medical personnel, for a couple of reasons. First, the chance of allergic reaction to titanium is extremely slim, and second, the earrings feature a medical-grade plastic back that is difficult to remove, keeping them safe from the pulling hands of toddlers and young kids.

Smith advises her patients to wear the disposable titanium earrings for eight weeks before switching to a platinum or 18-karat gold or higher pair. (She said these have been the most successful metals in terms of avoiding allergic reactions.)

The switch to regular earrings, however, often presents problems.

“My clients would get disappointed when they changed from the disposable titanium earrings to regular earrings,” Smith explained. “They would buy screw-backs, which would eventually start unscrewing. They would call me in a panic over lost earrings and holes closing up. Kids would go to summer camp and the earring would fall out and the hole would close and we would have to do the entire procedure all over again. And every time you pierce, you’re creating scar tissue.”

When Smith and Segal decided to join forces for the “My First Earrings” collection, which is being sold under the Bleecker & Prince label, Segal suggested they use Alpha System Earring Backs. “It’s the best mechanism in the industry,” Segal said.

“It has a safety backing so it’s unlike any other backing,” added Smith. “It locks on and you don’t have to worry about it.”

The sizes available in the United States were too big for infants’ ears, so Segal sourced some at smaller dimensions from overseas.
20170418 MyFirstEarrings insert2Registered nurse and owner of Clinical Ear Piercing Rachel Smith
Segal kept the designs kid-friendly, featuring lady bugs, hearts, stars and simple dots, all rendered in 18-karat yellow or rose gold, with some styles accented with diamonds or rubies.

She added an evil eye to the collection at the suggestion of several parents. “I had a lot of requests for evil eyes for babies. People like protection,” Segal explained.

But she also designed the collection with universal appeal in mind.

“I would wear any of these in my second or third hole,” said Segal. “So it’s something you can keep forever.”

Smith is hopeful that “My First Earrings” will be one day be passed down as heirloom jewelry.

“I tell my clients, ‘This is an earring that you give to your daughter and she’ll wear it until she’s 5 or 6 and wants to start changing her earrings and wearing different styles. Then maybe one day she’ll give it to her daughter.’ This is not a throwaway earring.”

Bleecker & Prince’s “My First Earrings” collection is available for wholesale and starts at $280 per pair.

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