Looking for New Earrings? A Jeweler's Guide to Styles, Backs & Closures
Add the ultimate finishing touch to your day or night look with earrings, or create an Ear Party with several earring holes on the earlobes and cartilage. From studs to dangles, hoops, and more, earrings offer a way to express yourself -- instantly noticed because they frame your face, complementing your features, hair, and overall appearance with a personalized approach to fashion and eye-catching luxury.
This blog post will cover the types of earring styles, earring backs, and closures, outlining the difference and offering tips and tricks for choosing the right pair or single earrings for you.
- Stud earrings
- Hoop earrings
- Dangle and drop earrings
- Threader earrings
- Jacket earrings and removable parts
- Clip-on earrings
- Standard friction backs
- Screw backs
- Threadless push pin backs & locking backs
- Hinge backs
- Key takeaways
Stud earrings do not dangle from the ear. Classic stud earrings include diamond or gemstone solitaire (one) stones. Stud earrings can also range from ultra-small to large, from lightweight to more glamorous.
Stud earrings are available in various metals, sizes, shapes, and materials. From round ball studs, thumbtack/nail head flat medallion shapes, mini pearls, gemstones, beads, and more, studs can be understated or luxurious.
Studs may also have a very petite cluster (such as a halo with a solitaire stone in the middle)–always resting on their designated area, whether in the cartilage or earlobes. From diamond-cut to hammered rustic finishes and more, stud earrings are suitable for work, casual, and any time.
Hoop earrings are a timeless trend, always popular and perfect for complementing other jewelry. Although hoop earrings are often circular, they are available in geometric shapes (triangle, octagon, etc.) and textured/pattern asymmetrical looks meeting at the post.
Hoop styles showcasing diamonds and other gemstones on the front of the earring and the interior are called “Inside Out” hoop earrings, giving the illusion they have a never-ending row of glitter and vibrancy when viewed from all angles.
These earrings may feature an “endless” or "infinity” style with a tubular silhouette, sitting close to the earlobes with a curved post.
Hoop earrings are available with openings on the backs, known as “C” or “J” hoops, also known as ¾ hoop earrings secured by a classic post needle back.
Dangle and Drop Earrings
Dangle earrings always drop below the earlobe, hence the descriptive name for them. Popular types of dangle earrings include chandeliers (extravagant looks) and linear ones for simplicity that is anything but ordinary.
Dangle earrings have a variety of common earring backings adding swing and movement, sometimes length. Dangle or drop earrings also may be dramatically long or short, depending on the design.
Threader earrings are a contemporary trend that is here to stay. Threader earrings feature an ultra-slim chain with an elongated needle post on one side. This needle post is threaded through the ears until it sits in equal or comfortable lengths on the back and front of the ear without a backing.
Threader earrings are made with different gemstones, designs, and metals; they may contain stones or metal. Threader earrings can be longer or shorter, depending on their uniqueness.
Jacket Earrings & Removable Parts
Jacket earrings are a vintage style that has grown in popularity over recent years.
Two looks in one! Jacket earrings are composed of two separate parts. Jacket earrings are often studs with a halo or other back part that may be removed or placed together. The jacket may be connected to the post or completely separate. Mix and match jacket stud earrings with other backings, giving you a unique look any time.
Don’t have any piercings in your ears? No problem. Clip-on earrings offer the perfect alternative for those who do not have any earhole piercings.
Clip-on earrings can be dangles, button studs, and more. Clip-on earrings can contain stones or are made of different metals and other materials.
Made to be worn by all! Clip-on earrings are suitable for those with pierced or non-pierced ears because they clip on the ears with a hinge and a comfort disc on the back. The comfort disc is usually made of rubber or plastic. Clip-on earrings do not have a post back (threaded through the ears for those with pierced ears).
Common Backings for Earrings
Earring backings are used to secure the earring to the ear. Without earring backing, the earrings would fall off the earlobe easily. Earring backings add extra detail to the earrings, allowing the entire design to sit properly and comfortably on the earlobe.
Don’t like the backing of your earring? A bench jeweler at a jewelry store or virtual jewelry companies (online websites with repair services) accepting mail-ins may be able to remove and replace the earring backing with something more suitable.
Here are a few options if you're looking for alternative backings:
Standard Friction Back
Standard friction backs feature a needle post with secure backing. Standard friction backs may also be called butterfly backs, barrel backs, or needle backs. Standard friction backs are used in all earrings, such as studs, dangles, chandeliers, geometric, etc. Standard friction backs allow the earring to sit upright against the earlobe.
Screw backs resemble a screw. The post has teeth and is held in place with a notched backing. Screw backs screw on the ears, offering comfort and total security.
Screw backs are frequently used with higher-quality diamond solitaire studs. This is why they are popular for more expensive earrings—there is less chance of losing them.
Do you have butterfly post friction backs and wish to have screw backs? A professional bench jeweler can repair your earrings with something more secure, like a screw back.
Threadless Push Pin Backs & Locking Backs
Locking backs/push pins are earring backings made to be worn over longer periods, commonly placed on the ears by a piercer. The smooth, flat back and post allow the earring to comfortably sit on the ears. Locking backs are perfect for Ear Party looks, offering a more streamlined silhouette, unlike the clutter of multiple butterfly backs. The push pin fits over the needle back, adding security to the earring.
There are a few types of earring hinge backs. Each hinge back type gives the earring a different look and feel when worn. Here are some popular hinge backs:
Omega backs feature a hinge on the bottom with a needle back and a lever fashioned into a wire Omega shape, hence the name. Omega backs are considered luxurious with their uniqueness, perfect for supporting heavier designs and multiple stones without stretching the earlobe.
Lever Backs & Latch Backs
Lever backs have a curved wire post threaded through the pierced ear. This curved wire meets at a lever piece, adjusted by the hinge on the bottom as it holds the wire centered. Suitable for dangle or drop earrings.
Click-top posts feature long, straight posts held by two small pieces of metal on the other side, pinching it in place. Click-top posts are popular choices for hoop earrings, adding swing.
Shepherd’s Hooks & French Wire
Like lever backs, these backings feature a wire that threads through the earring hole. They are shaped like question marks. These types of backing are made for dangle or drop earrings and may be held securely with rubber stoppers if desired.
There are many types of earring styles to choose from. Educating yourself is fun and interesting. It will help narrow down the type of earring you will love. Any jewelry store will offer earrings with dangles, drops, studs, and more, making picking them out a more personalized gift.
Earring backs are as much a part of the design as the earring's metal and gemstones, diamonds, and other ornate details.
Don’t love the backing of your earring? Is your earring backing in need of repair? A bench jeweler can substitute, repair, and replace the earring backing, making it more suitable and secure.
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