Ear Stretching: What I’ve Learned So Far/How-To Basics (Part One)

Hi all! So I think some of my favorite posts to do on this blog are the ones involving my piercings. I’m really passionate about piercings, and anyone who knows me in real life know that I am more than ready to jump into a full on conversation about my piercings, what it was like getting them and healing them and any other questions anyone might have! But my favorite piercings to talk about are definitely my lobes-my stretched lobes!

So today I’m gonna talk about my journey from never wearing earrings in my lobes, to have 2G (6mm) stretched lobes and what I’ve learned about stretching and properly taking care of your ears!

I had my ears pierced when I was nine, and it was a pretty traumatic ordeal for my ears. I had them pierced with a gun, which I do not recommend (I’ll get into my personal reasons later), and for some reason, they refused to heal for the longest time, and while at the time I didn’t know much about piercings and healing processes, I’m pretty sure my ears began to grow into the jewelry, causing tearing whenever I tried to change my earrings.It took over a year for me to actually begin to feel no pain whenever I changed my jewelry, but I was still scared of how much it might hurt, so I hardly touched them. And after a few years, once they were completely healed, I stopped wearing earrings altogether.

So about the time I started college, I got really interested in not only tattoos, but body modifications in general. I loved the way plugs looked, but I was scared to stretch.

After years of debating it and deciding that small earrings just didn’t look right in my lobes, and only larger earrings did, I figured I would begin to stretch, so I ordered a set of tapers 14G through 8G and two pairs of plugs, 10G and 8G. And here is where I will teach you how to stretch from my own trial and error.

Don’t skip sizes. I hadn’t been wearing earrings for years, so I really should have started stretching at a 16G or even an 18G, but I started with the 14G. My first attempt to stretch was the night I got my tapers in the mail, but before I could get any sort of lubrication for them. But let’s slow down, and back up a little bit before lubes.

How to clean and disinfect your jewelry before you stretch and what types of jewelry are safe to stretch with:

There are all sorts of different jewelry out there for stretched ears. You have various metals, glass, acrylic, wood, bone, horn, sylicone, etc. Of all the types there are, I am going to tell you two that are ok to stretch with. You can go against my word, I am no expert and stretching is about you and YOUR body, but this is my advice from MY OWN experience.

Stainless Steel Tapers with O-rings

Stainless steel. And glass. These two are your safest bet for stretching your ears and while they are not necessarily the cheapest, they will prevent any complications that could arise when you stretch. And if you are looking to save money on them, there are tons of places you can go online to buy taper sets made of these materials, for CHEAP. I spent maybe $20 total on stainless steel tapers and plugs for sizes 14G through 0G (I’ll link to some kits at the end of the post).

Here’s why you should choose steel or glass to stretch: Stainless steel and glass are both non-porous materials. In simpler terms, there are NO microscopic holes in the jewelry. You’re thinking, ok, why is this important? When you stretch your ears, you are creating tiny micro tears in your skin, these tears are opens wounds. Now you probably know that when you have a wound on your body, your body heals over it and makes NEW skin. Well if your body starts creating new skin and you have a plug in your ear with microscopic holes in it, your skin will start to grow into those holes. This can be bad! Very bad! There are horror stories of people whose ears have grown into their jewelry and have to have their jewelry surgically removed, which is not only painful, but expensive. Now does the extra few dollars for non porous plugs seems worth it?

[Also, a lot of stores in the mall and such will sell acrylic tapers individually, but they are actually more expensive this way, and will cost you hundreds of dollars if you choose to stretch this way]

Glass Spiral Tapers

Now onto cleaning your jewelry. Your first inclination is to probably grab a bottle of rubbing alcohol to wipe down your new jewelry with. Don’t. This will probably be your inclination for any cleaning regarding your ears, but avoid that. To properly clean your jewelry, and your ears, grab a cup full of warm (about the temperature of a nice hot shower) and add 1/8 teaspoon sea salt to it and mix. Make sure your sea salt is NOT iodized. You can get a big container of sea salt from your grocer for a few dollars and it will last you FOREVER. I’ve started using mine for cooking, cleaning all my piercings as well as my stretches and I’ve yet to make a real dent in it.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN TOUCHING YOUR JEWELRY OR EARS MAKE SURE YOUR HANDS ARE SUPER CLEAN!

Let your jewelry soak in your warm salt water for a few minutes while you begin to prep your ears to stretch.

A lot of people suggest taking a hot shower beforehand to help soften up your lobes, but I find if my ears are ready for the stretch then this step is unnecessary. Take a qtip or a cotton ball and dip it into your same salt water and clean around your lobes with it, letting the warm water soften them up a bit.

Now on to lubes. Don’t go grab a bottle of lotion, or a tube of antibiotic cream. These are just greasy and nasty for your ears and will cause complications. You want a natural oil which has a similar composition to the oils in your body. Don’t just grab olive oil from the pantry. That will mess your ears up as well! I’m talking Jojoba oil or Vitamin E oil. Jojoba is pretty expensive and is not available at your drugstore for the most part, but Vitamin E oil is easy to come by and not too expensive. I spent $8 on a bottle, which at the time I thought was super expensive, but like my salt, I’ve hardly made a dent in it. It’s going to last me years.

Take just a drop of whatever oil you choose to use and spread it between your index finger and thumb and begin to massage it into your ear lobes. Once you think your ears are sufficiently lubed up, take your tapers out of the water solution and rub a drop or two of oil and run it along the taper, making sure the smaller end is nicely covered. Gently and slowly begin to insert the taper into your lobe (make sure your piercing has healed completely, wait at least 6 months to a year after getting them pierced to actually stretch them). I like to put two fingers on the back side of my ear to support it during the stretch. Slowly push the taper through. If it hurts, you’re not ready to stretch or you need to start at a smaller size. You should feel a slight stinging/burning sensation, and that will subside after a few minutes or so. It should not hurt though.

If you have a plug in the corresponding size, line it up with your taper and push to follow it through into your ear. Do not wear tapers as jewelry. The heavy weight on the one end will cause your ear to stretch unevenly. I wore tapers as jewelry at 14G and 12G but switched to wearing plugs only at 10G. The tapers at the first two sizes are pretty light, so it’s ok then, but they start weighing too much at 10G.

Pop your O-rings onto your jewelry and you’re good to go. FOR NOW. In four days, the newly stretched skin will start to relax and adjust to its new size and you should take your jewelry out, soak it in the sea water solution to clean it, using a qtip, cottom balls or clean fingers to scrub away your newly acquired ear cheese (yup, that gross looking, smelly stuff on your plug is called ear cheese, it’s a mixture of dead skin cells and sebum!) and then once again, clean your lobes with the salt solution. Put a drop of oil on your fingers and massage it into your ears, and until your ears have fully adjusted to your new size, I’d suggest putting a drop of oil on your plugs as well to help get them back in. Clean your ears and jewelry like this once or twice daily, and do not touch your ears during the day otherwise. They are still open wounds and touching them can get bacteria in them and cause infection.

So now I’ve got you started on your stretching journey! Part Two will go into detail on the process of healing after stretches and how to know when you’re ready to stretch to the next size as well as what to do in case of infection or tears, etc!

Links to jewelry:

Stainless Steel 316L Ear Taper Stretching Kit 16pc 14G-0G

Stainless Steel Taper and Surgical Steel Plugs Kit 28pc 14G-0G

Full Steel Taper Kit 14G-0G

Happy stretching

-Mel

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Ear Stretching: What I’ve Learned So Far/How-To Basics (Part One)

Hi all! So I think some of my favorite posts to do on this blog are the ones involving my piercings. I’m really passionate about piercings, and anyone who knows me in real life know that I am more than ready to jump into a full on conversation about my piercings, what it was like getting them and healing them and any other questions anyone might have! But my favorite piercings to talk about are definitely my lobes-my stretched lobes!

So today I’m gonna talk about my journey from never wearing earrings in my lobes, to have 2G (6mm) stretched lobes and what I’ve learned about stretching and properly taking care of your ears!

I had my ears pierced when I was nine, and it was a pretty traumatic ordeal for my ears. I had them pierced with a gun, which I do not recommend (I’ll get into my personal reasons later), and for some reason, they refused to heal for the longest time, and while at the time I didn’t know much about piercings and healing processes, I’m pretty sure my ears began to grow into the jewelry, causing tearing whenever I tried to change my earrings.It took over a year for me to actually begin to feel no pain whenever I changed my jewelry, but I was still scared of how much it might hurt, so I hardly touched them. And after a few years, once they were completely healed, I stopped wearing earrings altogether.

So about the time I started college, I got really interested in not only tattoos, but body modifications in general. I loved the way plugs looked, but I was scared to stretch.

After years of debating it and deciding that small earrings just didn’t look right in my lobes, and only larger earrings did, I figured I would begin to stretch, so I ordered a set of tapers 14G through 8G and two pairs of plugs, 10G and 8G. And here is where I will teach you how to stretch from my own trial and error.

Don’t skip sizes. I hadn’t been wearing earrings for years, so I really should have started stretching at a 16G or even an 18G, but I started with the 14G. My first attempt to stretch was the night I got my tapers in the mail, but before I could get any sort of lubrication for them. But let’s slow down, and back up a little bit before lubes.

How to clean and disinfect your jewelry before you stretch and what types of jewelry are safe to stretch with:

There are all sorts of different jewelry out there for stretched ears. You have various metals, glass, acrylic, wood, bone, horn, sylicone, etc. Of all the types there are, I am going to tell you two that are ok to stretch with. You can go against my word, I am no expert and stretching is about you and YOUR body, but this is my advice from MY OWN experience.

Stainless Steel Tapers with O-rings

Stainless steel. And glass. These two are your safest bet for stretching your ears and while they are not necessarily the cheapest, they will prevent any complications that could arise when you stretch. And if you are looking to save money on them, there are tons of places you can go online to buy taper sets made of these materials, for CHEAP. I spent maybe $20 total on stainless steel tapers and plugs for sizes 14G through 0G (I’ll link to some kits at the end of the post).

Here’s why you should choose steel or glass to stretch: Stainless steel and glass are both non-porous materials. In simpler terms, there are NO microscopic holes in the jewelry. You’re thinking, ok, why is this important? When you stretch your ears, you are creating tiny micro tears in your skin, these tears are opens wounds. Now you probably know that when you have a wound on your body, your body heals over it and makes NEW skin. Well if your body starts creating new skin and you have a plug in your ear with microscopic holes in it, your skin will start to grow into those holes. This can be bad! Very bad! There are horror stories of people whose ears have grown into their jewelry and have to have their jewelry surgically removed, which is not only painful, but expensive. Now does the extra few dollars for non porous plugs seems worth it?

[Also, a lot of stores in the mall and such will sell acrylic tapers individually, but they are actually more expensive this way, and will cost you hundreds of dollars if you choose to stretch this way]

Glass Spiral Tapers

Now onto cleaning your jewelry. Your first inclination is to probably grab a bottle of rubbing alcohol to wipe down your new jewelry with. Don’t. This will probably be your inclination for any cleaning regarding your ears, but avoid that. To properly clean your jewelry, and your ears, grab a cup full of warm (about the temperature of a nice hot shower) and add 1/8 teaspoon sea salt to it and mix. Make sure your sea salt is NOT iodized. You can get a big container of sea salt from your grocer for a few dollars and it will last you FOREVER. I’ve started using mine for cooking, cleaning all my piercings as well as my stretches and I’ve yet to make a real dent in it.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN TOUCHING YOUR JEWELRY OR EARS MAKE SURE YOUR HANDS ARE SUPER CLEAN!

Let your jewelry soak in your warm salt water for a few minutes while you begin to prep your ears to stretch.

A lot of people suggest taking a hot shower beforehand to help soften up your lobes, but I find if my ears are ready for the stretch then this step is unnecessary. Take a qtip or a cotton ball and dip it into your same salt water and clean around your lobes with it, letting the warm water soften them up a bit.

Now on to lubes. Don’t go grab a bottle of lotion, or a tube of antibiotic cream. These are just greasy and nasty for your ears and will cause complications. You want a natural oil which has a similar composition to the oils in your body. Don’t just grab olive oil from the pantry. That will mess your ears up as well! I’m talking Jojoba oil or Vitamin E oil. Jojoba is pretty expensive and is not available at your drugstore for the most part, but Vitamin E oil is easy to come by and not too expensive. I spent $8 on a bottle, which at the time I thought was super expensive, but like my salt, I’ve hardly made a dent in it. It’s going to last me years.

Take just a drop of whatever oil you choose to use and spread it between your index finger and thumb and begin to massage it into your ear lobes. Once you think your ears are sufficiently lubed up, take your tapers out of the water solution and rub a drop or two of oil and run it along the taper, making sure the smaller end is nicely covered. Gently and slowly begin to insert the taper into your lobe (make sure your piercing has healed completely, wait at least 6 months to a year after getting them pierced to actually stretch them). I like to put two fingers on the back side of my ear to support it during the stretch. Slowly push the taper through. If it hurts, you’re not ready to stretch or you need to start at a smaller size. You should feel a slight stinging/burning sensation, and that will subside after a few minutes or so. It should not hurt though.

If you have a plug in the corresponding size, line it up with your taper and push to follow it through into your ear. Do not wear tapers as jewelry. The heavy weight on the one end will cause your ear to stretch unevenly. I wore tapers as jewelry at 14G and 12G but switched to wearing plugs only at 10G. The tapers at the first two sizes are pretty light, so it’s ok then, but they start weighing too much at 10G.

Pop your O-rings onto your jewelry and you’re good to go. FOR NOW. In four days, the newly stretched skin will start to relax and adjust to its new size and you should take your jewelry out, soak it in the sea water solution to clean it, using a qtip, cottom balls or clean fingers to scrub away your newly acquired ear cheese (yup, that gross looking, smelly stuff on your plug is called ear cheese, it’s a mixture of dead skin cells and sebum!) and then once again, clean your lobes with the salt solution. Put a drop of oil on your fingers and massage it into your ears, and until your ears have fully adjusted to your new size, I’d suggest putting a drop of oil on your plugs as well to help get them back in. Clean your ears and jewelry like this once or twice daily, and do not touch your ears during the day otherwise. They are still open wounds and touching them can get bacteria in them and cause infection.

So now I’ve got you started on your stretching journey! Part Two will go into detail on the process of healing after stretches and how to know when you’re ready to stretch to the next size as well as what to do in case of infection or tears, etc!

Links to jewelry:

Stainless Steel 316L Ear Taper Stretching Kit 16pc 14G-0G

Stainless Steel Taper and Surgical Steel Plugs Kit 28pc 14G-0G

Full Steel Taper Kit 14G-0G

Happy stretching

-Mel

Style Review: Glass Heart Studios – 2G Twilight Squids

Sometimes you can’t help but fall madly in love with something when you see it. This is exactly how I felt when I stumbled upon Glass Heart Studio on Etsy. Here’s a little bit about the shop in their own words:

“Glass Heart is located in Portland, OR. The jewelry is designed by, Annermarie Hoffman, who is dedicated to making this world a more beautiful place, one pair of earrings at a time. Currently, all the jewelry is made from Pyrex Glass, a nonporous, hypoallergenic material, perfectly suited for those with allergies to metals. The raw colors come from manufactories here in Oregon, mostly within a 15 mile radius of the studio, and all jewelry is produced in state, by highly trained and extremely skilled artisans.”

It was by pure accident that I even found GHS on Etsy as I wasn’t in the market for new plugs, but when I saw the listing for a pair of 2G Lemon Squids, my heart melted. Unfortunately they sold to someone else before my next paycheck, but it wasn’t a complete letdown because I found the same style in a color combo called “Twilight.” These babies are GORGEOUS.

So let’s get onto the review! I’m going to be judging based on the plugs themselves, the price, my experience with the seller and shipping.

Let’s start off in chronological order. This is an Etsy based shop and while you can find the plugs on Body Art Forms, there is more selection and options for customizable plugs through Etsy. The shop is also really easy to navigate in comparison to shopping for hanging styles on BAF. GHS provides categories of plugs so you can select your size range and easily see what’s available in your size. Or if you’re just browsing and find a style/color you like but it’s not in your size, you can choose a custom order and select the hanging style and what color you want in the exact size you want. It’s a little pricier than the premade plugs, but worth it if you need something specific. The shop gets an A+ in my book.

Price wise, these plugs are a little bit expensive. If you have stretched ears, you know that this is true to most high quality jewelry you can buy. And if you haven’t been stretching for long or you’re still going up in sizes, you already know how hard it is to justify any sort of expensive jewelry for a size you won’t be staying at. The plugs I bought are originally priced $88 and are a size 2G. Since I’ve only been at a 2G for a month, it was easier to let the price slide considering I will be wearing this size for a while longer before my ears are ready to stretch again. If I was at a 12 or a 10G, I wouldn’t find it hardly worth the money, unless you planned on staying that size for a while. I know there are people who stretch their ears to be only slightly larger and if that’s you, go for these. I can say that when I bought these, GHS had a coupon code for 25% of your order using SPRINGSTOCK. Since then they have removed the coupon code from their shop announcements, but it’s always worth a try to see if it still works!

Shipping. This is what annoyed me. I feel (and I believe I have a right to say this as I sell products/art for a living) that time is everything. Especially in the realms of online ordering. Which is why it irked me it took about 2 weeks to finally ship my order. After 1 weeks and not hearing anything about my order having shipped, I contacted the seller. After a few more days of silence, I sent another message. It took a full week to hear back from them and the message I got felt like an excuse for being lazy. But that’s my interpretation. I still feel that for something I paid this much money for, I should have gotten a better vibe. Thumbs down.

Now onto the actual jewelry. These are gorgeous. There are small defects in the glass which detract from them a slight bit but are probably only noticeable to the wearer. They seem to be just a result of how the glass is made and therefore an inevitability. These are super light and feel incredibly fragile, but so far have proven to be sturdy. They catch the light beautifully and look incredibly gorgeous in my ears. After posting this picture to facebook, I got a call from one of my friends in Portland just to gush about how “sexy” these plugs were.

Overally, I’m incredibly pleased. Any negative experiences I had in purchasing these are seriously outweighed by how amazing they are and how comfortable they are to wear. I would definitely give them a shot if you’re in the market for some fancy new plugs!

-Mel

Body Mods: Stretched Lobes 2g

So it’s that time again, where my ears were ready for another stretch. I wasn’t planning on the stretch but when I put in some slightly less tapered plugs and they slid all the way through my ears, I figured my ears were up for a 2g and it ended up being a super easy, painless stretch.

For anyone wondering what my ears look like without plugs right now, here they are.

And a look at the new red tiger eye single flare plugs I am sporting from Body Art Forms.

These plugs were slightly larger than a 2g and didn’t slip right in. It took a hot shower and a lot of vitamin E oil, but I was able to coax them in without any complications and they look great and are super comfortable to wear. They’re just as beautiful as in the picture!

-Mel

What Time of Daith?

Ok, sorry. Terribly bad pun title. But I had to do something with it because my friend didn’t even know what I was saying at first, and thought I had suddenly picked up Old English.

So what am I talking about? I just got my daith pierced the other day at Idle Hands Tattoo in Mesa!

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Not to be mistaken for my rook, the daith is that little piece of cartilage between the rook and tragus. Super cute, right?

And for me it was completely painless! I’ve never had such an easy piercing before! 1/10 on the pain scale! It doesn’t even hurt with the healing process. I even slept on it a few hours after it was done (woops).

And my plugs, in case you’re wondering, are my 4g pyrex plugs from Body Art Forms, which I talked about here, and said I would do a little review on, so here we go!

I absolutely love these plugs. I thought about switching them out for my tunnels the other day, but changed them back after about ten seconds with the others. They’re incredibly comfortable to wear, especially to slide in because of the curved back, so when I put my tunnels in, the flat edges feel sharp and painful in comparison.

These are super easy to clean, although they¬† get real slippery when wet and soapy, so I always clean them over a plugged sink for fear of losing them down the drain. They’re a little harder to put in when freshly cleaned (not impossible or difficult, just more friction), but I don’t see it as a problem because it’s a good reminder to oil up my lobes and massage them. My ears have been dry lately, so it’s actually a huge help.

I also love the flares on them. They give the appearance of a larger gauge, but at smaller sizes, also have an appearance of normal earrings, which appeases those in my life who disagree with body mods (especially those who hated my tunnels like no other…mom…).

I should probably also talk about my most recent stretching experience, as some people have asked about it, knowing I had difficulty with this stretch.

My ears, despite waiting for them to heal and develop a gap around my 6g plugs, were just not able to stretch directly to a 4g, so I went about the taping method as I had done stretching from an 8g to a 6g. I had a few issues with taping and my ears seeming to do the opposite of what made sense. My right ear usually stretches easier than my left, but they switched it up this time. My left ear was more than willing to take extra layers of tape, while my right refusing to add even a layer every day.

Anyways, after a few days of taping I was able to get a 4g taper through my left ear, but was unable to follow through with the plug, and after about 3 attempts of the taper falling out and having to redo it over and over, my ear had had enough. So I put o rings on it and slept with it in, with the hopes of removing the taper and replacing it with a plug in the morning. No such luck. It took me two or three days for the swelling in my lobe to go down enough for me to even be able to remove the taper. You read that right, the taper was stuck in my ear.

Well, by the time I was able to move the taper out and replace it with a plug in my left ear, I decided to try the taper on my right. It went through, no pain, no friction, so I slid it out and tried a plug on its own. It went in. Don’t ask me how.

Well, two days later, I removed my left plug to clean my ear, only to find my Q-tips were covered in blood. When I had cleaned my ear after removing the stuck taper, they were fine, and there was no additional stretch to put the plug in, so what caused this, I have no idea. I don’t think it was a tear, but maybe just irritation from the whole process?

My ears are both super healthy again though, but in case it was a tear, I’ve put off stretching til at least July (but I’ll probably pierce the rest of my body to keep me busy in the meantime).

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I’ll answer to the best of my knowledge.

-Mel

Body Art Forms (Mini) Haul

Since I began my body mod journey last year, I haven’t bought a lot of jewelry for my mods, but I HAVE spent a lot of time browsing websites and looking for what I would buy if I had money.

Body Art Forms is my favorite site so far to get all my jewelry needs. They’re easy to navigate, search and order from without looking like they’re straight outta 1995.

My first order from BAF was last month after my piercer had used too small of a ring to pierce my nose, and missed my sweet spot, putting my piercing slightly higher than desirable. Needless to say, my septum is still my favorite piercing so far and I’d only ever take it out to re-pierce it someday. Anyways, I’m off track. When I determined I needed a larger septum ring, I ordered from BAF because I felt most comfortable with the info they provided for each product, so I knew what I was getting.

My shipment came within the week and my nose ring looks great. Happy customer.

So naturally, I’m headed back to BAF for an early birthday gift to myself. I ordered these two items today, in hopes of getting them sometime at the end of next week.

These Single Flare Mint Colorfront Pyrex plugs are just what I’ve been craving. I really want a nice opalite or agate stone plug but I’m not at my goal size and not willing to invest a lot of money into something I’ll only wear for a few months, but I’m sick of my steel tunnels, so this was a happy medium. Plus, they’re single flared and safe for freshly stretched ears, so I won’t have to wait long after my 4g stretch to put them in (unlike all the double flare stone plugs)

I’m currently wearing a circular barbell in my septum and while I like how it looks, I was messing around with it and turned it all the way to one side, so that both balls were hidden in my nose, and I have to say – DANG I like how an infinity ring would look on me! So I ordered myself a Steel Segment Ring to replace the ol’ CB. I’ve been told that CBRs are a lot easier to put on for septum piercing, and just hide the ball inside your nose, but the space where the ball goes is so tiny, that 1) It will be difficult for me to get in my nose considering the awkward placement of my piercing and 2) I won’t be able to flip it up. I hide my septum for work and around my parents, and it would be too much hassle, so I thought the segment ring would be a great choice.

I’ll post pictures of my new jewelry as soon as it comes in and I can wear it!

-Mel

Ear Stretching Update: 6g

So two days ago I was able to get my right lobe to a 6g but lefty always falls behind. I had begun taping them evenly at the same time but I guess he just needs the extra attention.

20120207-101128.jpg
For those wondering, 6g is the equivalent of 4mm, and entire millimeter jump up from 8g (3mm). That’s the first big jump for lobe stretching.
My ears, despite giving them enough time to heal and form a gap around my 8g tunnels, were just not able to make the stretch. So I began my first venture into taping plugs. After about 5 days of wrapping new layers of PTFE tape around them everyday, I’m finally able to get both ears to 6g.

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Now back to the grindstone. I’ve got some beautiful rings to show you in the shop soon!
-Mel