While some Scenics are known for performing masochistic deeds such as bikram yoga, this Scenic has a penchant for needles and body modification. We're actually thinking about taking our circus sideshow act on the road. Perhaps we will even debut as an attraction at this year's Odd Ball! Witness the wonder of Katie's and DH's sweat! Marvel as Laura Fitzscenic cleans her earlobes! Jackie Scenic's pointing will astound you!
When it comes to the piercing aspect of body modification, the go-to girl in the Hartford area would, of course, be Georgina Williamson. Georgina has been adorning faces and body parts in West Hartford since 1997, and has developed a solid reputation as being a skilled and knowledgable professional. In late 2008, Georgina opened Black Diamond Body Piercing on Park Road in West Hartford, and has been the Hartford Advocate Readers Poll favorite her first two years in business.
Black Diamond stands out for many reasons. It is an upscale piercing studio, rather than a tattoo shop with a piercer. Piercing is the focus here, and the idea was to create a clean, relaxing, almost spa-like environment. Black Diamond is also a jewelry boutique, that offers a large selection of piercing jewelry and traditional style earrings.
The shop is also an art gallery and showcase for local talents. Hey, theres friend of the blog and local art star HL Groen's work!
In addition to selling high quality (and totally gorgeous) body jewelry, Black Diamond carries pieces by local jewelry designers. Wait, isn't that SuperLula's fun and awesome plastic candy and glitter jewelry!?!
Georgina recently took some time to answer our hard hitting questions and talk a little about the piercing industry.
How did you get started?
I honestly can’t remember a time in my life that piercings and tattoos weren’t of interest to me. I grew up in Long Island, very close to Manhattan and spent a lot of time in the Village, so I was exposed to a lot of different lifestyles and culture at a pretty young age. I can remember wearing fake ear cuffs and nose rings and drawing on myself with sharpies as young as age 8 (which didn’t go over very well with the Catholic school I attended!).
I came to Hartford for college in 1995 as a psych major, and quickly realized a “traditional” job wasn’t really what I wanted for myself, but I stayed to please my parents. I got my first professional piercing shortly after getting to school and I was instantly hooked. I soon got another, and another, and so on... all but the first piercing I got done at the same shop and the piercer there and I became fast friends. I ended up hanging out there a lot and constantly asked to watch him work. Once he saw how interested I was in it and that watching didn’t gross me out or phase me at all, in fact it excited me, he offered me an apprenticeship. It was basically like going to school full time (40hrs a week) and I was still going to college full time, but I loved every second of it and soon realized this is what I was looking for. Piercing is definitely what I was meant to do with my life.
What do you like best about your job?
There are so many things I love about what I do. First of all, I love that I just get to be myself all day, not some “work version” of me like so many people that I know, but I also really enjoy the look on someone’s face when they see their new piercing for the first time. There’s nothing like that feeling of making someone else so incredibly happy!
What about your job is most challenging?
Being a piercer definitely comes with challenges. I think the biggest challenge for me is to be patient with people when they do the exact opposite of what I recommend, and then ask me how to fix what they messed up. That gets a little frustrating sometimes, but I just remind myself that they don’t live in this world of piercings day in and day out, and they don’t intentionally ignore me. There’s a lot of conflicting and outdated information on the internet, not to mention “friends” who have one piercing and think that makes them an expert, and it’s my job to help them navigate through all of it.
I feel like I've seen piercing trends come and go like anything else, and I'm sure you must notice things like that. Like, in the mid nineties, all these girls started getting their navels pierced. Then, a few years later, tongue piercings became super hot. Is there any particular piercing that is popular right now?
I agree there are definitely trends... but some never seem to go. Not a single day passes at work without navel, nostril, and cartilage piercings. They are definitely here to stay. Right now the biggest trend is definitely microdermal anchors. They’re so versatile.... you can put them just about anywhere on the body and the beads options are endless. I think they’re here to stay as well.
(Georgie bedazzled my chest tattoo with a sweet microdermal)
Do you have any interest in getting into doing more extreme mods, like implants, or shaping or splitting body parts?
I have a lot of respect for the people who do those kinds of mods.... but they’re not something I’m looking to do. I have a few piercer friends who do them in the tri state area and I just refer people to them.
What if there was a way to implant a horn on a person's head to make them like a unicorn?!?
That would be awesome! I think that you should get one. I’ll give you a card ;)
At my diminutive height, I think having a horn on my forehead would be kind of dangerous at crowded parties. Perhaps one of the other Scenics would be interested in this. I see you are a member of the Association of Professional Piercers. What’s that all about?
The piercing (and tattoo) industry is, for the most part, unregulated. In CT, there are very basic requirements, like a minimum age, but when it comes to sterility, jewelry quality, and training, there is absolutely nothing. They basically think it’s the responsibility of the person who wants a piercing to do the research and make sure that the place they choose is clean. Unfortunately, many people don’t know that, so they assume if the shop exists, it must be clean and you must know what you’re doing. Sadly, this is not the case.
The APP (Association of Professional Piercer’s) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to keeping piercings professional and safe. They help make legislation (in the states that are interested) to keep standards of practice high and keep legislators educated about piercing safety. To be a member of the APP, your shop must meet a VERY long list of “environmental criteria” such as hand washing sinks in every piercing room, a proper “clean” room where cleaning of dirty instruments and autoclaving (steam sterilizing) of instruments, jewelry and needles occurs separately from all other parts of the shop, as well as the overall professionalism of a shop. You also have to meet “personal criteria” such as answering a questionnaire to prove your overall piercing knowledge, and being certified in first aid, CPR and blood-borne pathogens (just like any medical professional). They also have minimum requirements for jewelry quality. This is something that is largely overlooked.... even if the piercing is done correctly, but the
quality of the metal is poor, you will have a lot of problems, possibly rejection of the piercing and may even end up removing it completely because it “just won’t heal”.
So, in a nutshell, going to an APP member piercing shop can give you piece if mind that you have chosen a place with the highest of standards in every way. You can verify memberships and learn more about them at www.safepiercing.org.
What do you look for when selecting jewelry to sell at the shop?
Well, as far as body jewelry goes, I only sell the best of the best. Any surgical steel (316LVM ASTM F-138) or titanium (6AL4V ELI ASTM F-136) I use/sell is implant grade and is totally hypoallergenic (and no, this is not the same stuff you can buy at the mall). All the gold, white gold and platinum I sell is solid, not filled or plated. As for looks, all of it is hand made with hand set high quality synthetic AND/OR genuine gemstones. The only silver jewelry I sell is for ear lobes (it’s not an appropriate metal for body piercings or any healing piercing) and is solid .925 sterling silver. When it comes to non-metal jewelry, for instance stone, wood, bone and horn, it’s all hand–made and most importantly, beautiful and unique.
As you know I also sell other kinds of jewelry (necklaces, bracelets etc....) as well as art from local artists. My only real “requirement” for that is that I like it, it’s made locally, and would appeal to my clientele.
When you're not poking holes in the fine people of the Hartford area, what do you like to do in the Hartford area?
I’m kind of all over the place. I do enjoy a night out with my friends here and there.... usually at the Spigot or wherever my husband’s band, the Soul Merchants is playing. I also love to go antiquing, thrift store shopping, art shows..... game night at friends houses is a favorite in the winter time. In general, as long as I’m with the people that I love, I’m happy.
The Soul Merchants- we've totally blogged about them! Anything else?
Going out on my own in 2008 was a little scary at first. I now know it was the best decision I’ve made since I chose this profession. The response has been incredible, so there was definitely a need for an all piercing shop in the area, even more so than I realized. I just want to take a moment thank everyone who supported me and continues to support the shop every day with their continued patronage and referrals. I hope to serve as a friendly place for professional piercings, amazing jewelry, as well as a gallery for local artists to get their work out there for many years to come!
Thank you, Georgina. We love your shop and wish you the best! Good luck in that Hartford Advocate Poll we keep mentioning around here.
Photos of Georgina's work can be seen at www.blackdiamondbodypiercing.com. as well as on facebook.