A Guide To The Different Types of Earrings

Earrings are one of the most popular forms of jewelry in the world and have been since ancient times.

Nowadays, there is a range of different styles and designs available on the market, from timeless diamond studs to dangly drop earrings and elaborate chandeliers.

Oversized and dramatic, modern and edgy, or dainty and ornate, each earring style has its own attributes, backing type, and placement on the ear.

Read on to find out more about the different types of earrings so you can make an informed buyer’s decision when it comes to your next jewelry purchase.

Types of Earrings

Stud Earrings

Petite love knot earrings in 14K Italian yellow gold by Blue Nile

Stud earrings have long been a popular style choice for both men and women. These classic earrings feature a simple post that passes through the ear lobe, with small gemstones or other decorative elements positioned on top of the post.

Stud earrings are often made from precious metals like gold, silver, or platinum, although some high-end designs may be set with diamonds or other precious stones.

Another type of stud is the extended stud earring, which features multiple posts joined together. This style offers more visual interest than a standard stud design and is perfect for those who want to make a stylish statement with their jewelry.

Whether you prefer classic studs or more dramatic extended styles, there are plenty of options when it comes to stud earrings!

Drop Earrings

14K white gold freshwater cultured pearl triple drop earrings by Blue Nile

Drop earrings feature a pendant suspended from a vertical rod or chain that hangs below the ear lobe. These earrings are typically stationary but are nonetheless striking due to the dramatic way in which they catch the light.

Despite their popularity, drop earrings do come with some drawbacks. Firstly, these earrings can be quite heavy due to the weight of the pendant, making them uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. Secondly, drop earrings are prone to getting snagged on clothing, which can cause damage to the earring or ear lobe.

Nevertheless, drop earrings are a stylish and versatile accessory that are sure to make a statement no matter where you go.

Teardrop Earrings

Vintage-inspired freshwater cultured pearl and white topaz drop earrings in sterling silver by Blue Nile

Teardrop earrings are a popular style of earring that feature a teardrop or almond-shaped stone or charm. These earrings have been popular for many years, and they continue to be one of the most sought-after styles today.

Teardrop earrings come in a variety of materials, such as silver or gold, and often feature gemstones like amethyst, turquoise, or peridot. The teardrop shape is widely considered an elegant and sophisticated design element that can add a touch of class to any outfit.

Dangle Earrings

14K yellow gold blue topaz tonal drop leverback earrings by Blue Nile

Dangle earrings are earrings that hang down from the ear lobe rather than sitting close to the ear. They are available in a wide range of styles, from sleek and minimalist to colorful and embellished.

Though they share similarities with drop earrings, dangle earrings are never stationary and are characterized by continuous movement.

Dangle earrings are often considered more dressy than other earrings, making them a good choice for special occasions. However, many casual styles are also available, making them versatile accessories.

When shopping for dangle earrings, it is important to consider the length of the earring, as well as the weight. Longer dangle earrings can be cumbersome and may get snagged on clothing, while heavier dangle earrings may pull on the ear lobe and cause discomfort.

Pearl Earrings

14K yellow gold hoop earrings with freshwater pearls by Blue Nile

Pearl earrings are a classic style that has been popular for generations. Known for their lustrous sheen and elegant, timeless look, pearl earrings add a touch of sophistication to any outfit.

So, whether you’re headed to a formal dinner party or simply looking to jazz up an everyday ensemble, pearl earrings are a perfect choice. They can be paired with anything from dresses and jumpsuits to blouses and t-shirts, instantly elevating any look.

Thus, pearl earrings are a wardrobe staple that no fashion-lover should be without.

Chandelier Earrings

14K white gold 3-drop diamond chandelier earrings by Blue Nile

Chandelier earrings are a type of dangle earring characterized by their oversized and intricate design. These distinctive earrings feature multiple tiers or chains of hanging jewels, often in varying lengths and colors.

Because chandelier earrings draw attention to the wearer’s face, they are a popular choice for formal events such as weddings and proms.

These dangling earrings can be made from a wide variety of materials, including crystals, gemstones, glass beads, precious metals, and even plastic. So, if you’re looking for a glamorous statement piece, chandelier earrings are the way to go.

Tassel Earrings

Tassel earrings are a type of dangle earring that has become increasingly popular in recent years. The tassels are typically made from a soft, flowing material such as silk or cotton and are often brightly colored, adding a touch of whimsy to any outfit.

Tassel earrings are also typically lightweight, making them ideal for individuals who dislike wearing heavy earrings but still want to make a statement. Additionally, tassel earrings are usually quite affordable, making them an excellent option for those on a budget.

Hoop Earrings

14K yellow gold medium hoop earrings by Blue Nile

These types of earrings consist of a hoop that goes through a piercing in the ear lobe, forming a complete circle from the front to the back of the ear. Hoop earrings are generally made of metal, such as gold or silver, and the size and shape of the hoop can vary.

Hoop earrings are typically worn as fashion accessories, but they can also have cultural or religious significance. For example, in some cultures, hoop earrings are worn as a symbol of status or wealth, while they sometimes form part of traditional dress in others.

Hoop earrings are generally considered to be versatile and stylish and can be worn with both casual and formal attire.

Huggie Earrings

Petite diamond huggie hoop earrings in 14K yellow gold by Blue Nile

Huggie earrings are a type of modified hoop earring that are designed to hug the earlobe closely, making them less likely to get snagged on clothing.

Like hoop earrings, huggie earrings are available in both circular and oval shapes, and they can be made of various precious metals, including gold, silver, and platinum.

Huggie hoop earrings are also a popular style for non-pierced ears since they sometimes feature a hinged closure that allows them to hug the exterior of the ear without the need for a piercing.

Cluster Earrings

14K yellow gold freshwater pearl and diamond cluster stud earring by Blue Nile

Cluster earrings are a type of stud earring that typically feature a group of gemstones on top of the post instead of just one.

Cluster earrings can be made with any type of stone, but diamonds are the most popular choice. The cluster can be small and discreet or large and dramatic.

Overall, cluster earrings are a versatile accessory that can be worn for any occasion, from casual to formal. In addition, they can be paired with other jewelry to create a coordinated look.

Jacket Earrings

Jacket earrings consist of a stud with an attachment or “jacket” that fastens to the back of the post. Essentially, it replaces the butterfly back that holds the earring in place.

Thus, jacket earrings add interest to an otherwise plain pair of diamond studs or ball earrings.

Threader Earrings

14K yellow golf front-back freshwater cultured pearl threader earrings by Blue Nile

Threader earrings are a modern style of earring that has been gaining in popularity over the past few years. These types of earrings feature a thin, elongated wire or chain that goes through the ear piercing and dangles on either side of the ear. Threader earrings are also sometimes woven through more than one piercing for a unique look.

Climber Earrings

14K white gold marquise climber stud earrings by Blue Nile

Climber earrings, also called crawler earrings or ear climbers, have become one of the hottest trends in jewelry fashion in recent years. Featuring an elegant, crescent shape that crawls up the length of the ear, ear climbers provide a unique and fashionable look without the need for multiple piercings.

Crawler earrings are available in a wide range of styles, from simple and understated to bold and ornate. So, whether you are looking for a striking accessory that will turn heads or want something subtle to wear every day, climber earrings are a great choice.

Clip-On Earrings

In the same way that huggie earrings hug the ear lobe, clip-on earrings have a hinge that applies pressure on either side of the ear lobe to keep them in place. In other words, clip-on earrings are a great way to add a bit of style to your wardrobe without having to commit to piercing your ears.

While clip-on earrings are not as popular today, they were a predominant earring style in several past decades.

For example, various brightly colored clip-on earring styles were all the rage during the 80s and 90s. They were also the most prevalent earring style in America during the 1920s and 1950s since pierced ears were considered an act of rebellion at the time.

Plug Earrings

Plugs, also known as flesh tunnels or earspool earrings, are a type of earring that is worn in stretched earlobes. Plugs are available in a variety of materials, including metal, glass, wood, and silicone. They range in size from 6mm to 25mm and can be decorated with a wide variety of designs.

While plug earrings are popular among both men and women, they are most commonly associated with the punk and goth subcultures. Wearing plug earrings does require some initial stretching of the ear lobe, which can be done at home or by a professional piercer. Once the earlobe has been stretched to the desired size, plugs can be inserted and removed as desired.

Leverback Earrings

14K white gold aquamarine cushion and diamond drop earrings by Blue Nile

These types of earrings have a lever on the back that opens and closes, making them very secure and less likely to fall out. Leverback earrings are also easy to put on and take off.

Barbell Earrings

Barbell earrings are a popular earring style that consists of a rod-like piece of metal worn across the cartilage of the upper ear. Their closure consists of a bead or sphere on either side of the rod, hence the name “barbell” earring.

Barbells are often made from stainless steel or another durable material, and their closures can take various shapes besides spheres, such as stars or spikes.

Circular Barbell Earrings

Circular barbell earrings typically feature a C-shaped ring that passes through the ear lobe and is secured on either side by a bead or sphere. One of the beads detaches for easy insertion, while the other does not.

Ball closure rings are another type of circular barbell that features only one bead in the center of the ring.

Circular barbells come in a variety of sizes and can be used as either single pieces or in combination with other types of earrings for a more dramatic look.

Cuff Earrings

Cuff earrings, or ear cuffs, take the form of a C-shaped ring that hugs the outer edge of the ear. They do not require an ear piercing and can be worn on the upper or lower part of the ear.

Ear cuffs are a versatile accessory that can be worn on their own or styled with different types of earrings.

Bajoran Earrings

Bajoran earrings originate from the television series Star Trek, where individuals from the planet Bajor wore them as a representation of their faith.

These types of earrings comprise two closures, one on the upper ear in the form of an ear cuff and the other in the form of an elaborate extended stud. The stud earring connects to the ear cuff by means of several layered chains, with or without charms.

Mismatched Earrings

14K yellow gold heart and key mismatched stud earrings by Blue Nile

Mismatched earrings are all the rage these days. Basically, they refer to two different types of earrings that either match in terms of color, size, shape, or theme or are completely unidentical.

The trend started as a way to add a bit of fun and personality to one’s wardrobe, but it has since become much more than that. Mismatched earrings are now seen as a way to express your individuality and style.

Final Thoughts

Earrings can instantly change the look of any outfit and are an easy way to make a lasting impression, regardless of whether they are dainty and discreet or edgy and industrial. This quote by Jennifer Lopez perfectly summarizes it all: “Women should never go without earrings. Passing on them is an opportunity missed.”


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