Ear Piercing is the modification of making holes in the vinyl through or near a doll's ears to allow the doll to wear earrings. The price for the dolls to get their ears pierced are $16 USD which are roughly $21 CAD.
Through American Girl
Starting in 2008, any Truly Me doll can get her ears pierced--if ordered off the website, this must be done at purchase. Otherwise the doll must be taken to a store or shipped to American Girl directly. For Historical Characters, ear piercing was initially not available as an option at the time of purchase online; it is now available if requested. AG will perform piercing services for any 18" doll or WellieWishers doll for a fee of $16. Create Your Own dolls may be ordered with pierced ears and will have silver star studs.
A purchase at any American Girl Place can be done at the salon if paid for at purchase or if a doll is brought in at a later time. American Girl will explicitly not perform ear piercing on dolls outside the brand.
By default, Girl of the Year ears are not pierced; the exception was Saige Copeland, who was sold with pre-pierced ears. Prior to Isabelle Palmer, Girls of the Year were not available to get ear piercing at purchase online. Isabelle was the first to have ear-piercing available at purchase with the same earrings that modern dolls were offered.
Starting with Grace Thomas, several Girls of the Year came with optional, exclusive earrings for the duration of her availability; these were also available for Lea, and Gabriela (who shares earrings with Tenney).
The permanent holes are drilled with a rotary power tool and are sized for American Girl earrings (about 12 gauge/3mm) which are bigger than standard human earring posts (18-20 gauge/0.812 mm) Any doll may wear any available earrings. The doll comes with a set of earrings which are generally only available through piercing. Originally the Silver Star Earrings were the included earrings; starting in 2015 the Stars and Hoops Earrings replaced them.
The same drill method is used for applying hearing aids, though the post hole is placed at a lower position. A doll thus may have both hearing aids and pierced ears.
American Girl recommends that earrings be left in for two to three hours post piercing since the drilling moderately heats and stretches the vinyl; this prevents the piercing from shrinking too small to accommodate earring posts.
Before ear piercing was available directly, the only official earrings available were stick on earrings, generally of a small gemstone style (e.g.: Gemstone Earrings).
Self-Piercing Doll Ears
Some collectors prefer to pierce ears themselves, both to AG sized earrings and standard human size. Before ear piercing was offered through the company, this was the only way to have pierced ears.
When piercing to standard-post size, a doll is not limited to American Girl earrings only and may wear human sized posts of any style with a standard post to slide into the ear; however, the hole is not large enough to accommodate AG earrings.
Standard post piercing is generally done with a large needle or pushpin and possibly the earring post directly (though this is harder). The vinyl can be warmed up with a heat source such as a blow dryer to prevent cracking and/or the needle or pushpin can be heated directly. The needle/pin is then gently pushed into the vinyl to make a hole. The hole is permanent but smaller and more discreet than the piercing holes made by American Girl. Sizing generally allows any regular small gauge standard post earrings to be placed into the piercing.
A person can also make earring holes the same size as American Girl sizes using a hand drill and a correctly sized bit. A thumb tack, needle, or smaller drill bit can make an initial guide hole. Then a 3/32" bit (approximately 2.5 mm, which will allow studs to slide out easier) or 5/64" (which will make a tighter fit) can be used to make holes to the correct size. One may have to ream the hole a bit with the drill bit on high speed if too snug.
Dolls with Earrings from American Girl
Just Like You 27 came with permanent silver loops with star charms until 2008.
Ivy Ling, Elizabeth Cole, and Saige Copeland each came with pierced ears by default and can wear standard American Girl Earrings. Courtney does not come with pierced ears by default, but has an accessory set that includes earrings and the character has her ears pierced in her stories.
Since piercing was made available, the following earring packs have been available:
- Silver Star Earrings
- Everyday Play Earrings
- Pretty Party Earrings
- Birthstone Earrings
- I Love Sports Earrings
- I Love Pets Earrings
- Stars and Hoops Earrings
- Fancy Earrings
- Fresh and Fun Earrings
- Pets Earrings
- Doodle Earrings
- Elegant Earrings Set
- Party Earring Set
- Sweet Pairings Earrings
- Cool Expressions Earrings Set
- Sparkle Gem Earring Set