Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Many Kinds of Earrings

I thought I knew about earrings, and I took some pride in that.  But after talking to someone at a shop recently while browsing, I was given a short little lesson on just how little I did know. First, a bit of neat naval history.

The Pirates and sea farers wore hoop golden earrings for several reasons:


1.      They hung wax off of them that could be used to plug their ears when firing the cannons that can shatter your ear drums when you fought in one too many battles;

2.      They helped with seasickness (I’m a bit dubious on this one), and they were a badge of honor given when a sailor first passed the equator; and

3.      The earrings were usually made of gold that was meant to compensate for burial if they drowned and their body were washed ashore after a shipwreck.

Throughout the centuries the trend continued amongst men, until tables turned and women began to dominate ear adornment. During 1970’s  piercing  reached  new  heights  as  nurses  began attending  ear  piercing  parties  at  department  stores,  alleviating  the  need  for home piercings using a needle and a prayer that infections wouldn’t occur. Eventually ear piercing guns were invented and improved sterilization techniques promoted further adoption of fashion piercings.

 
Here are the common ones that everyone's heard of:
Studs

 
These kinds of earrings create the illusion of floating on an earlobe, they are also the first earrings you wear after piercing your ears. Post earrings consist of the post that goes through the piercing and an embellishment that is fused or soldered to the front. Designs can be enhanced with drop rings for dangles. Stud earrings stay in place using a clutch or butterfly backing.

Earwires

Shepherd Hooks - the most popular of all pierced earrings, hook earwires are inexpensive and easy to make by forming wire. Many variations exist by changing the shape, altering the wire or adding ornaments to the hook itself. The drawback of earwires is that they often push forward out of the ear when the end-user wears certain hairstyles, scarves or turtlenecks. A rubber back stopper can help to secure these earrings in place to avoid losses.  

 


V-wires or Marquise wires - this is currently a popular variation on the standard hook shape. V-wires are typically larger than standard earwires and can support heavier dangles.

 


Ear Threads – these long earrings thread through the ear and out the opposite side so dangles appear both in front and behind the lobe for an interesting illusion effect.

 


Kidney wires – are made from wire shaped like a kidney with a hook that latches the finding together. Kidney wires are inexpensive and more secure since they rarely push out of a piercing. Current variations include larger wires that hang lower from the ear.

 

Hinged Ear Findings

Leverbacks – are a premium ear finding option. These findings have a hinge backing that securely snap into place behind the ear lobe.

 


Earharp-- shaped like a harp, these findings consist of a post and hinge backing that snaps in place for a secure hold.


 Hoops

 Wire Hoops – these lightweight and inexpensive hoops are ideal for beading or wirework additions. Wire hoops usually have one end flattened and pierced so the hook end can latch into the hole. Or, they may have a circular loop at one end to receive the bent latch hook. Wire hoops come in all shapes and sizes.


 Hinged Hoops – are a more expensive, premium option. These earrings have a hinge that securely latches it into place. Hinged hoops are often made with hollow tubing or solid castings. The larger surface area on the hoops allows for more ornate patterns, shapes and designs.




Endless Hoops – are primarily made from hollow tubing. The top arch is a finer gauge wire that goes through the lobe and then inserts into the open end of the tubing to create an “endless” loop shape.


 Non-pierced Earrings

 Clip-ons – are the most popular non-pierced earrings. They just snap to the lobe to hold it in place but do tend to slip off fairly easily when dangles are too heavy.
 

Screwbacks - literally twist into place, holding the finding securely to the lobe.


Others

Cuffs – wrap around the cartilage in the middle of the ear. They are purchased as a pre-made cuff or many designers create their own using ear cuff blanks. These are often embellished with a charm or a chain is added linking it to another earring located elsewhere on the ear.


 

Chandeliers – usually hang from an earwire. These resemble a chandelier and create a cluster effect in jewelry designs.


 

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