Earrings are an essential accessory that are found in most women’s wardrobes – as well as many men’s! Most earrings consist of the embellished earring itself, as well as an earring back. The back ensures that the earring state secure and won’t fall out while you’re wearing it.
Earrings have been worn by people across various civilizations for centuries. Earrings are mentioned in Exodus 32:2, which has been dated back to 538 – 332 B.C.E. The history of earrings is vast and varied; while different cultures have subtle differences in earring styles and traditions, many types of earrings are consistent in countries all over the world. When it comes down to it, earrings are timeless accessories that have become a fixture in the history of fashion.
Earring designs have been innovated over the years, with creative jewelry makers constantly coming up with new ideas for fresh accessories. Nowadays, you can find a pair of earrings in virtually any style, with playful charms in the shape of just about anything! That being said, some classic earring styles have remained untouched for decades, namely hoop earrings and diamond studs. These traditional earring types don’t need changing – their beauty is timeless.
Below, you’ll find information on the main earring types worn by people today. In addition to learning about the origins of these earring varieties, you’ll read the important features of each so that you can decide which options are right for you.
Dangle earrings are a common earring variety that may be worn on a day-to-day basis or for special occasions. Dangle earrings hang down from the piercing on an earlobe and often vary in length. Very long dangle earrings may even extend as far as your shoulder!
Dangle earrings have been known in history to be a symbol of wealth and prominence in society. Ancient Egyptians in particular wore jewelry, including dangle earrings, as a sign of their status. Nowadays, women from all walks of life enjoy dangle earrings in all of their styles and forms. While some dangle earrings include genuine diamonds or other valuable jewels, there are affordable dangle earring options made from alternative materials. This is part of the reason why dangle earrings are a popular earring choice for people all over the world today.
Dangle earrings may have a stud in the piercing with a wire and embellishment hanging down from it, or the wire itself may simply hang down from the piercing. While the stud design may have a metal backing, the wire alternative typically just uses a small plastic piece to make the earring stay put. It’s important to always wear an earring back with dangle earrings because the weight of the jewelry may cause it to slip out of your piercing when you move your head (and no one wants to lose an earring!).
Main Features of Dangle Earrings
- Some dangle earrings are quite long, extending anywhere from one to two inches (or more) from the earlobe. The longer a dangle earring is, the heavier it will be, which is an important factor to consider.
- Due to their weight, long dangle earrings may not be a good choice to wear when you exercise. If you do exercise intensely while wearing a pair of heavy dangle earrings, you run the risk of ripping your piercing. Some individuals don’t like to wear dangle earrings of any kind during physical activity because the dangling portion of the earring will move and can become uncomfortable or distracting.
- Some dangle earring designs, called drop earrings by some, feature a small embellishment or jewel on a rigid wire hanging down from the piercing. This type of dangle earring allows for less movement and may, therefore, be a comfortable option for many people.
- Dangle earrings are one of the most versatile types of earrings. This is because their design can feature any number, style, and color of embellishment. From classic rhinestones to pearls to playful charms and more, there’s a pair of dangle earrings out there for everyone.
Chandelier earrings are a variety of dangle earring that are quite dressy. They’re often worn to formal occasions and are often paired with dresses or gowns. The type of earring is characterized by diamonds, rhinestones, or jewels that hang from the ear in a diamond-shaped formation, reminiscent of a chandelier.
Chandelier earrings have a rich history that dates as far back as the 3rd century. This type of earring has roots in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Greek culture. In fact, chandelier earrings featuring gold filigree that were made in Turkey in the 3rd century have been found, proving that chandelier earrings are an exceptionally long standing accessory.
Though chandelier earrings were initially made and worn in Eastern countries, they made their way West as a result of the growth of the British Empire. Chandelier earrings have been worn by celebrities, public figures, and even royalty. The Greville chandelier earrings are an iconic example; given to Queen Elizabeth as part of Mrs. Ronald Greville’s jewelry collection in 1942. However, these earrings were again given as a gift in 1947, this time as a wedding gift to Princess Elizabeth. The Greville chandelier earrings were constructed by Cartier using diamonds of an assortment of cuts set in platinum. The Greville chandelier earrings are still worn on occasion to this day.
Chandelier earrings are often found as part of costume jewelry collections. These ornate earrings can have several tiers of jewels, beads, and rhinestones, creating a striking, sparkling accent for gowns and other costumes. Chandelier earrings that are considered costume jewelry are typically quite long and made with large rhinestones or other jewels.
Main Features of Chandelier Earrings
- Although all chandelier earrings feature layers of hanging jewels, charms, or embellishments, this type of earring may come in varying shapes. Some chandelier earrings have just four jewels or charms configured in a diamond shape, while others have many small jewels layered together for a more intricate design. The structure of a pair of chandelier earrings determines its fanciness and appropriateness for formal occasions.
- Chandelier earrings have remained “on trend” for decades and decades. This earring type remains in style because it’s classically feminine while providing room for you to express yourself. Choose chandelier earrings with unique charms or untraditional colors for a look that’s wholly individual.
- Chandelier earrings are a variety of dangle earrings that can be large and relatively heavy. As such, they’re not a good choice to wear while you’re exercising or moving around a lot. The weight can be overbearing and cause ear discomfort.
- Chandelier earrings were popular in the 1990s among celebrities, which helped maintain their prominence as a staple piece of jewelry. This type of earring is typically associated with formal, dressy functions and may therefore be a common choice for weddings, galas, balls, etc.
Stud earrings are an essential accessory and a staple in many people’s earring collection. Stud earrings consist of a single jewel, charm, or embellishment for each ear. The stud attaches directly through the piercing with a back piece to keep the earring secure.
Stud earrings are so popular because they’re practical and appropriate for a variety of occasions. Studs can be quite simple or formal and ornate, so a single pair of studs could seamlessly transition from a day at the office to a dressy night out. This means that you’ll get plenty of wear out of a pair of studs and one pair can serve a variety of purposes.
In contrast to dangle earrings, stud earrings don’t have a connecting point to the ear that you can clearly see. Stud earrings cover the piercing entirely, creating the illusion that the earring is just an extension of your ear. Of course, most people know that this isn’t the case. But, it creates a flattering, streamlined, and elegant visual effect that’s desired by many individuals.
Diamond stud earrings are a classic earring type. With just a single diamond or rhinestone, this style of stud earring is elegant and understated. Plus, diamond studs can coordinate with any outfit, whether it be a casual, everyday look or a flashy ensemble for a night out. When you own a pair of diamond studs, you have an awesome earring option for every outfit in your wardrobe.
Main Features of Stud Earrings
- Due to the fact that many stud earring designs are quite simple, it’s a popular earring type among men. Some men have an ear piercing on only one ear, so a stud earring is a subtle, understated yet visually interesting choice of accessory.
- Some people have multiple ear piercings, whether it be located at the cartilage, directly above the first piercing, or on some other area of the ear. Stud earrings are a great option for those with multiple piercings because many studs are small, leaving room for dangle earrings, large charms, pearls, etc. Pairing a stud earring with a dangle earring on the same ear creates a stylish, eye-catching look.
- Since stud earrings are often quite small, this variety of earring is also lightweight. So, it’s a common choice of earrings to wear while exercising and moving around. Studs will, for the most part, stay reliably secure in your piercing. There’s little risk of this type of earring falling out during a workout session or when you’re on the go.
Loved for their simple elegance, hoop earrings are an accessory worn by women for both day and night time occasions. The streamlined design of this type of earring, as well as the absence of sparkles and flashy jewels, make it an ideal choice to fit virtually any need. In fact, men with ear piercings will often choose to wear a small hoop – the style has no bounds as far as gender, occasion, and style are concerned.
Hoop earrings date further back in history than possibly every other earring variety. Gold hoops belonging to women in Sumer in approximately 2500 B.C.E. are the oldest earrings found by archaeologists, and in 1000 B.C.E., hoops were common across Western Asia and Aegean civilizations. These early hoop designs were typically made from gold, but bronze and silver were popular as well.
Hoop earrings range vastly in size. While some hoops are very small, with a diameter of only 15 millimeters or so, large hoop earrings may have a diameter of a few inches. Large hoop earrings aren’t the most practical to wear when you’re on the move, but they’re a fashionable choice for a fun weekend look or a night out.
Main Features of Hoop Earrings
- Hoop earrings are a popular choice to wear not only in the main ear piercing in one’s earlobe, but also in additional piercings further up on the ear and in the ear cartilage. Multiple small hoops may be worn in cartilage ear piercings for an edgy yet cohesive look.
- Classic hoop earrings are made of a smooth metal – usually gold, silver, or bronze – and have a streamlined look. But, more modern hoop earring styles have become popular over the years and may feature textured metal or even charms linked onto the hoop itself.
- Women used to not wear hoops in work or office settings because the style wasn’t viewed as professional enough. Now, however, many women wear small to medium-sized hoop earrings to work; this type of earring is a popular option for all varieties of apparel.
- Hoop earrings are especially popular in Latin Many famous female Latin musicians wear large hoops, which has made them synonymous with Latin culture. Large hoop earrings make a bold statement and may be interpreted as a symbol of confidence and female power.
- Hoop earrings that are larger than the norm may even touch your shoulder! These hoops reach almost five inches in diameter and, while not practical for every setting, are striking and will make you stand out in a crowd. Many celebrities and female cultural icons wear rock extra large hoop earrings, making them a fashion statement that’s growing in popularity.
Plugs are a unique earring variety and differ from the other earring types on this list in that they require more than just a regular piercing. In order to wear plugs, one must stretch their earlobe, which is a phenomenon that’s been around far longer than many people realize. Once the earlobe is stretched, is creates a hole that’s called a gauge, and the plug can then be put on.
Some of the earliest signs of people stretching their ears for aesthetic purposes are found in ancient Egyptian history. The infamous pharaoh King Tut himself had stretched ears around 1323 BC, though evidence shows that children were more likely than adults to have stretched ears in ancient Egypt.
Plugs come in a variety of sizes and styles. The larger the plugs, the more your earlobes will have to stretch in order for the plugs to fit. Some plugs are open in the center to show the open hole caused by the stretch. Other plugs are closed and solid so that they look more like typical earrings.
Plugs have gained exceptional popularity in recent years. The style is popular among people of many ages, but especially those 18 to 30. Modern plugs are often associated with punk style and even those who identify themselves as hippies. Plugs are an edgy, alternative style choice and, while they’re not for everyone, are a way for some people to express their individuality.
Main Features of Plugs
- Due to the fact that plugs require ear stretching, the commitment level is higher than it is with a regular ear piercing. Regular piercings may likely close after long periods of not wearing earrings. Also, when you don’t wear earrings, regular piercings aren’t especially noticeable. But, when you take plugs out, the stretched ear is visible. The more an ear is stretched, the less likely it is that the ear lobe will be able to return to its natural state over time.
- Plugs have the shape of a short cylinder and can be made from a large range of materials. While many plugs are made of plastic, they may also be constructed from metal, wood, silicone, and even glass. The material used to make a pair of plugs often determines the price of the earrings.
- Technically, the word gauge refers to the hole created by stretching the ear lobe to wear a pair of plugs. However, the term “gauge” is now often used to refer to the plugs themselves. This can become confusing during the process of stretching the ears, as professionals don’t typically refers to gauges as the earrings themselves.
- As a result of the ear stretching process, many people need to be extra careful to only purchase plugs made from materials that won’t cause irritation. Many people are allergic to some metals and could experience redness, inflammation, pain, and even infection by wearing a pair of plugs made from certain materials.
- Plugs come in a variety of colors. Hollow plugs don’t show the color of the jewelry as vividly, while solid plugs have a visible surface. Many people with gauges own a variety of different plugs so that they can switch up their looks regularly.
Lisa has a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Arts. She is an experienced blogger who enjoys researching interesting facts, ideas, products, and other compelling concepts. In addition to writing, she likes photography and Photoshop.