Back in the 90s, piercings were all the rage. From extra hoops on the lobes to studs on the nose and even the ever-popular belly ring, jewelry was meant to be worn in multiples. The trend gradually faded in favor of a sole pair of statement earrings, but like all things dating to the grunge decade, it’s baaaaack.

But don’t break out the massive silver barbells of years past just yet! The new way to wear it features tiny studs that dot the ear delicately modeled by J. Colby Smith at New York Adorned. His wildly popular Instagram features stunning pictures of his work and he counts models and A-list celebs like Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley among his many clients. On an average Saturday afternoon it’s not uncommon for him to see upwards of fifty clients, all eagerly wanting to add a new pretty earring to everywhere from the curved shell of the ear to the little nub on the front called the tragus. We sat down with Smith to chat about the trend.

How has piercing evolved? 
Piercing is very progressive! Back in the 80s and 90s everything was thick and big and heavyit was about the shock factor. A lot of us have grown up so we can afford better metals and beautiful stones like diamonds.

But why do girls gravitate towards the delicate pieces?
We design a lot of our own jewelry and have always carried up-and-coming designers. A lot of the pieces have been smaller and more unusual. Girls know to come here for refined pieces that aren’t your standard fare at most tattoo shops. When they see it they’re like ‘oh you know I’ve been, I’ve actually been thinking I want another piercing…’

Does it hurt?
Women are great with pain. Think about high heels! They’re not afraid to suffer a bit for something pretty.

If they can’t come and see you to get it done, what do you suggest?
There are a lot of great piercers everywhere but they might not have access to the same types of jewelry that we sell. The big part of it is getting somebody who gets your aesthetic.

Can you bring your own jewelry and if so, what should you look for?
You can always bring in a nice piece and have them use it. It could be gold, platinum or silver but it should never be costume.

Will this go out of style?
I don’t think so! I’m very careful with the word trend just because I don’t see it as a trend, I’ve been doing this for 13 years and it’s not going anywhere. As long as jewelry is new and fresh, piercing will always be.

Want to try out the look? Click ahead to see 20 tiny pairs, perfect for updating your ears.

—Diana Tsui