Types of Earrings: A Style and Shopping Guide
Angelica Frey | August 31, 2023
Angelica Frey | August 31, 2023
Earrings are one of the most common and oldest forms of adornment, jewelry, and body modification, observed all the way back to the Sumerian and Minoan civilizations. They come in various shapes, lengths, and backs, from compact studs to shoulder-grazing drop and chandelier styles.
What Are the Most Common Types of Earrings?
Given their varying lengths and widths, earrings have been the ideal ground for jewelers and fine jewelry designers to experiment with metalwork, rhinestones, and gemstones. All the varieties of earrings can be grouped under a finite number of styles, which take the general shape and the type of back into account.
Barbell earrings owe their name to their similarity with a barbell. Both have a metallic bar with spheres on both ends. One of the two spheres can be detached and reattached, and it doubles as closure. Barbells also come in a circular or horseshoe-like shape, and can be worn both as ear piercings and as nose rings.
C Hoop Earrings
C hoop earrings are like hoops, but miss a section, resembling the letter C. Due to the missing section, they have a pushback closure. The pushback closure makes them less dangly than actual hoops.
Chandeliers owe their name to their highly ornate appearance, which makes them look like chandeliers. They have a filigreed metallic structure embellished with rhinestones, pearls, diamonds, and other gemstones. The first documentation of chandelier earrings harkens back to 5th-century BCE Greece, but also prominently featured in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.
Cluster earrings display different gemstones grouped together, and can either be studs or dangle earrings.
Dangle earrings are long earrings that owe their name to the fact that they have a continuous, dangling movement, courtesy of their fish-hook closure. The closure is what differentiates them from drop earrings, which have a push or screw-back closure. Dangle earrings have varying degrees of ornamentation, and comprise both dainty and maximalist styles.
Drop earrings are long earrings with a pushback closure with an overall slim silhouette culminating with a gem at the bottom. Drop earrings are less ornate and whimsical than dangle earrings, move less and have a geometric, minimalistic silhouette.
Ear Climber Earrings
Ear climbers are also known as crawlers. They are fixed in the lobe and they climb up the ear. They usually feature biomorphic designs, such as vines, leaves, wings, and organic-looking crystal formations.
Hoop earrings have a circular design with a wire closure. They come in a variety of shapes, both in terms of diameter and in terms of the thickness of the hoop itself. In recent decades, we’ve seen hoops adapted into square-ish, oval, paperclip, and diamond shapes.
Huggies are miniature hoop earrings, which hug the earlobe. They don’t move or dangle much, and they are as versatile as studs, especially for people who are bothered by pushback closures.
Jacket earrings have a stud-like front part that holds the earring in place, while the jacket hangs behind the ear, hugging the lower part of the lobe.
Plug earrings can be both double-sided, where a central bar is bookended by two metallic cylinders, one of which detaches, and individual plugs, which are used in the process of ear stretching.
Shoulder Duster Earrings
Shoulder duster earrings are long dangle earrings notable for their shoulder length. They differ from standard dangle earrings both for their length and their slimness. Shoulder dusters became popular during the Art Deco era, with Cartier producing notable designs. They have been subject to a revival on red carpets in the past five years.
Studs sit on top of the ear lobe without any downward movement and adornment, and they can feature either a single gemstone or a cluster, flower-shaped formation. Diamond and pearl studs are among the most notable examples of timeless and classic styles.
Teardrop earrings have a pushback or a wire-hook closure and have a teardrop-shaped pendant. They combine the practicality of the studs thanks to the pushback closure and the elegance of dangle earrings with their teardrop or pear-shaped pendant.
Threaders feature one single piece of metal that threads through the lobe, creating a continuous design that hangs on both sides of the earlobe.
What Are the Most Common Types of Earring Backs?
Earring backs impact the overall appearance of an earring because of how securely they allow it to be fastened to one’s ear.
Clip-on backs suit both those who don’t have pierced ears and those with pierced ears who want to wear heavier, more opulent designs. They’re backing clasps to the earlobe.
Fish (or Shepherd) Hook Backs
Hook backs are a type of wire that loops through the piercing and hangs on the backside of the earlobe without a metallic backing. Some jewelers provide you with a piece of tiny rubber back to add for extra security, even though the hook should be narrow enough to avoid slip-offs.
Hinge back earrings comprise a hinged post intended to snap onto a groove on the back of the earring. Hoops and huggie earrings usually feature this type of closure. They make a distinct click when they’re secured, so watch for that sound when wearing this style.
Hoop Wire Backs
Hoop wire backs consist of a wire that follows the curve of the hoop, rather than a straight rod. They’re usually seen in tube hoops, and you’re supposed to insert the tip inside the hollow part.
Latch and Lever Backs
Latch and lever backs combine a wire that goes through the lobe and a clasp in the back that then latches onto the wire, creating a complete loop. This is a more secure alternative to fish-hook wires, making dangle earrings less prone to slipping off.
Post backs feature a short, straight metal rod that goes through the ear piercing and helps secure the earring in place through the use of a butterfly-shaped back. This type of backing can be used in C hoops, studs, and drop earrings. The types of backs can be push backs, which are pushed onto the rod towards the lobe and back, and screw backs, which you fasten by screwing them in place.
What Are the Most Timeless Types of Earrings?
Earrings don’t have to be minimalistic to qualify as timeless. Lever-back earrings at all levels of ornamentation, whether it’s a teardrop-shaped gemstone or a baroque pearl, are timeless. Studs, whether they’re in a bezel setting or have a prong setting, are also timeless. Hoops that are up to 1.25 inch in diameter are timeless in that they combine a streamlined silhouette with some movement.
Drop earrings and large hoops can be timeless too, but they need particular accommodations in terms of hairstyles and have some dress code-related constraints as they are either tied to evening wear or more casual outfits.
What Are the Most Versatile Earring Styles?
Studs, huggies, and lever back earrings are among the most versatile styles due to their streamlined silhouette and practicality. Their designs enable easy day-to-night look transitions and work with most hairstyles and hairdos. You will not need to wear your hair a certain way in order to accommodate these styles.
How to Incorporate Diamonds in Your Earring Set
Diamonds elevate any earring collection. Their brilliance, a combination of brightness (white light) and fire (rainbow-colored flashes) and the countless shapes they can be cut in suit all settings and styles, from discrete studs to statement-making drop or dangle earrings. Earrings featuring VRAI created lab-grown diamonds are timeless and classic with a focus on sleek design.
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A contemporary twist on a timeless design, VRAI’s V Solitaire studs combine the timelessness of Round diamonds with a gold or sterling-silver knife-edge V-shaped contour, which emphasizes the brilliance of the diamond while keeping it secured in place.
The Del Sol Drop earrings combine two Pear diamonds with an Emerald in the middle, creating an eclectic pattern of scintillation and luster via a combination of brilliant and step-cut facets.
Four VRAI created diamonds in a sequence of one Round, one Marquise, one Baguette and a smaller Round follow the curve of your ear and create a constellation-and-nature-inspired pattern.
The Duo Dangle Earrings each feature two VRAI created diamonds separated by a delicate 14k yellow or white-gold dangling chain, combining movement with timelessness.
What Is a VRAI Created Diamond?
A VRAI created diamond is a lab created diamond grown in our Carbon Neutral certified zero-emissions foundry. The lab diamond is then cut and polished by master craftspeople. With VRAI created diamonds, you can rest assured knowing their origin with 100% certainty, something not possible with mined diamonds.