These earrings are the Eb/Ab key and the F#/C# key of a Yamaha 250 plastic clarinet. The ear wires are surgical stainless steel. The embellishments are 10k gold plated steel beads and color coated copper wire.
YCL-250 marching clarinet
This instrument has a short, yet dramatic history, and it involves pride, cutting corners, and Texas summer marching band camp. This particular Yamaha plastic clarinet belonged to a young lady in Frisco, Texas. She graduated, and went on to veterinary school. She decided to part ways with the clarinet she used for marching band. Her mother brought it to me to see if it was worth fixing up to donate to a school, but it had rusted solid! She didn’t want to pay to get it fixed up, so she gave it to me. I tried for months to get the rust to dissolve without harming the plastic, but it was no use. I couldn’t get the keys to budge, so I decided to make jewelry out of the keys I could get loose.
Now, how does this involve pride and cutting corners, you ask? Well! Hold on to your hat, because this is quite a tale! In Texas, band is so competitive that schools like to “encourage” the students to all buy the same kind of equipment. Like all the flute players would have to play Yamaha, all the tuba players would have to play a Miraphone, and so forth. In this case, they wanted all their clarinet students to play Buffet. This means pretty much every clarinet-playing kid in the state of Texas would buy a Buffet clarinet. That’s a lot of clarinets.
Well, Buffet got into some litigation with one of its subsidiaries. To make a long story short, Buffet sued the other factory, parted ways with them, and decided to make their own student clarinets. Buffet engineers used the cheapest wood and metal they could get away with in hopes that nobody would notice.
Texas band directors and clarinet private lesson teachers DID notice, and complained to whoever would listen. They even cornered the President of Buffet at the Texas Music Educators Association convention and threatened to have all their students buy Yamaha clarinets instead. The President of Buffet said “I don’t care” because he didn’t believe they would do it. If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s to never call a Texas band director’s bluff. Those band directors went right to Yamaha at that same convention and ordered a bunch of clarinets for the next school year. It ended up costing Buffet about a million dollars in business.
Meanwhile, Yamaha didn’t have the factory facilities to accommodate all these new clarinet orders, so they quickly opened up a factory in Indonesia. Unfortunately, the Indonesian factory didn’t have good metal supplies on hand for screws and rods to hold the keys onto the instrument bodies. The first production run of instruments would rust solid because of the screws and rods being made of the wrong metal. Thankfully, Yamaha paid attention to customer complaints, and the next production run didn’t have those issues. However, instruments like the one your earrings came from were relegated to the junk pile, since it just wasn’t possible to fix them.