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Earrings: Guide to Designs for Men & Women

Pierced earrings

Earrings are favorites with both women and men, and have been worn in one form or another for centuries.

About Earrings

No doubt about it, earrings are very popular jewelry items. In fact, you're probably wearing some right now as you read this article, and even if you aren't, chances are there are a few pairs sitting in your jewelry box.

People have been wearing these accessories for most of the last three thousand years. Ancient Egyptians were fond of plugs, a type of thick hoop that was inserted into a piercing and gradually enlarged to a size you could put your finger through. In Queen Victoria's day, heavy dangling earrings known as girandoles were the fashion. These miniature chandeliers stretched out the earlobes of many a woman, including the Queen herself.

Today, just about anything goes. Earbobs of all types are worn by people from every walk of life. If you don't particularly like a matched set, wear just one or go ahead and mix and match until you find a look you love.


Earrings basically fall into one of two main categories: pierced or non-pierced. Let's take a look at both styles and some of the variations each has to offer.


Pierced ear jewelry is perhaps the most popular and easily found style. The current fashion for piercing, coupled with the fact that pierced styles stay more securely in the lobe has pushed non-pierced styles into the background.

The main variations include:

  • Posts- The face of the jewelry sets on a thin post that passes through the piercing and attaches with a small slide-on clip at the back.
  • Hooks- These are extremely thin wires that vaguely resemble a fishing hook. A joint in the hook holds the decorative part of the earring and the back portion of the hook extends behind your lobe to act as a counter-weight.
  • Dangles- This style is almost a combination of the previous two. The jewelry attaches to your lobe with a post, but the rest of it hangs down from the post to dangle freely.
  • Hoops- These come in all sizes, from tiny hoops to large ones that look as though they could double as bracelets. Hoops typically attach with a small wire that passes through your piercing and connects to an opening in the rear portion of the hoop. Other hoops use a post attachment and only give the illusion of being a complete ring.


For those who opt not to have their ears pierced, there are several other styles to choose from.

  • Clip-ons- These earbobs attach to your lobe with spring-loaded clips. Although earrings of this type can look just as nice as pierced ones, clips are known to slip, and many a bob has been lost this way.
  • Screws- These are somewhat old-fashioned and seldom used today. Similar to a clip-on, this style uses a small screw with a flat head to create enough pressure to secure the jewelry to your ear.
  • Magnetic- This style employs a fairly strong magnet to hold your jewelry in place.


Earrings can be made from inexpensive plastic, or the most expensive metals and jewels. You choose what you like and can afford.Suitable metals include:

  • Surgical stainless steel- Hypo-allergenic and strong
  • 14-18K Gold - Hypo-allergenic and beautiful
  • Titanium- Extremely durable, but tends to irritate fresh piercings

Less desirable materials include:

  • Gold or silver plate- The thin layer of metal over steel tends to tarnish and wear away.
  • Sterling- Although lovely, sterling is not a good choice for pierced style earrings, since it reacts with body fluids and can leave permanent dark blackish-green marks on your lobes.
  • Nickel- This inexpensive metal is widely known to cause a red, moist rash wherever it comes in contact with your lobes. Some people are immune to it, but it's use is becoming more limited because of this problem.


Whether your ears are pierced or not, it's important to keep your earrings clean in order to avoid irritation and infections. You can gently wash them with mild soap and warm water, or use an appropriate jewelry cleaner. Just be sure to rinse and dry them well before you put them back on.


A great set of earbobs can provide just the right finishing touch to your ensemble. With so many options available, which style will you choose? We say have some fun trying them all.

Earrings: Guide to Designs for Men & Women