By Ngozi Ekeledo
Feb. 19, 2019

When Bianca Garcia and Alaia Kleiner, two 20-somethings living in Chicago, went to a friend’s birthday party a few months ago, they were greeted by a line of about 15 women clamoring for one thing: tooth gems.

“People were having, like, their entire mouth covered,” Ms. Garcia said.

Tooth gems are exactly what they sound like: tiny jewels, usually just a few millimeters in size, applied to the tooth with an adhesive. The gems are temporary — there’s no drilling involved — but permanent issues can arise if they are not installed properly.

The trend popped up in the ’90s, but it has made a comeback in recent years with a number of celebrity fans. On the model circuit, women like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber have been spotted with their teeth adorned with jewels, and they’ve become a signature look for Adwoa Aboah.

Drake joined the list of musicians to sport tooth gems after he showed off a sparkling pink diamond gem on Instagram last January. And just a month ago, Ariana Grande flashed her own pair of gems to fans on Twitter.

Ms. Garcia and Ms. Kleiner, both 23, each wanted tooth gems, but they were a bit put off by the cost of having one professionally placed. The installation can cost hundreds of dollars depending on the materials used. Instead of shelling out that kind of cash, they purchased a cheap kit online and adhered the gems themselves.

They were comfortable enough blinging out one another, but putting gems on acquaintances at the party was a different story. Their materials weren’t particularly high quality — Ms. Garcia described the stones they were using as “normal nail kit gems,” like you’d find at a beauty supply or craft store. The adhesive was also questionable.

“I honestly couldn’t even tell you what the glue was,” Ms. Garcia said. “We told our friends, ‘I mean we honestly don’t really know what we’re doing.’” No one seemed to have a problem with it.

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