Earrings have a rich and diverse history and have signified many things throughout the ages; Egyptians adorned themselves with earrings to signify wealth, while in ancient Rome, slaves were the only people in society who wore earrings. In this article, we're going to look at the main styles of earrings popular today including:
- Drop earrings
- Shoulder duster
- Clip on
The 1st known earring designs found, are gold hoops dating back to around 2500 BC, which have a simple crescent shape and were made from precious metals. Found in the region of Mesopotamia, they are believed to have been worn by women belonging to the Sumer, the earliest known civilization in the region. Over thousands of years, many different types of earrings have been dreamed up, and all are accessible to a wide range of people today.
With so many different designs to choose from, it can be overwhelming. But earrings can be a fantastic way to elevate an outfit. From an understated stud to a show stopping chandelier; there are lots of ways to experiment and have fun. You'll definitely find at least one design that's perfect for you so read on to find out all about these different types, and how to wear them. And check out our guide to The Eight Staple Jewellery Pieces You Should Own for info on other items you should have in your jewellery box.
Studs are an absolute classic which will never go out of fashion. A great everyday piece which is a must-have in your jewellery box. Both small and understated, they provide a subtle sparkle to the ear without taking too much of the limelight. Studs can be made from all types of materials like sterling silver, gold, gemstones and pearls. So there's plenty of different styles to suit all tastes.
How to wear stud earrings
People often opt for studs as an everyday item as they're lightweight and small so they don't get caught or tangled in clothing or long hair. Most studs sit close to the ear lobe and are fastened to the ear with a simple butterfly back which make them easy to put on and comfortable to wear.
Unsure of which metal to opt for? Read our blog Gold or Silver Jewellery? What You Should Wear
As we're already established, hoops are an ancient design, steeped in human history and they remain popular around the world to this day. Circular in shape and ranging in complexity of design, they come in many sizes. Hoops come in all types of materials from precious metals to cheaper alternatives like polymer clay.
How to wear hoop earrings
From dainty small hoops, to large showstopper pairs, there's something for everyone and can be worn both casually and for more formal occasions. They can be fastened to the ear in a variety of ways including snap backs, hinged backs and post backs which can be a selling point as you can find the style that suits you best. This feature is especially helpful for people with sensitive ears.
Huggies are a modern take on the quintessential hoop design. With a smaller and more snug fit around the ear lobe, these are a contemporary alternative perfect for both formal and casual wear.
How to wear huggie earrings
Many of the huggie features are similar to hoops, however they're usually smaller and lighter than the classic hoop, which can be better for people who don't like the feel of a larger earring. Huggies can be dressed up or down, depending on your preference and outfit decisions and come in all types of materials. You can also play around with layering huggies with other types of earrings for a more dramatic look.
4. Drop earrings
Drop earrings come in many different designs and are usually quite dramatic and impactful. Most drop earrings are long, and dangle down from the earring, hence the name. They usually have a satisfying movement to them when worn, which helps them to glisten and stand out.
How to wear drop earrings
Drop earrings are perfect for dressier occasions. They can also be dressed down with a casual t-shit and jeans type look to give an edgy feel to a classic day time outfit. Most drop earrings are fastened with a hook or lever-back which allows the earring to move freely, however some drops are fastened with a butterfly back which can give a more rigid and angular feel which adds to the drama.
5. Shoulder duster
Shoulder dusters are long drop earrings which dangle down to the shoulder and can even be longer than the space between your ear and shoulder. They're most often made of some type of base or precious metal chain and can feature gemstones or other elements.
How to wear shoulder duster earrings
Seen as a more formal type of earring, shoulder dusters make a big impact when worn, so they're great to wear to weddings or award ceremonies. It's best to pair this type of earring with a simple and elegant outfit, and they work really well with strapless or off-the-shoulder dresses. Similar to drop earrings, they're usually fastened with a hook or lever-back which allows the earring to move freely.
One thing to be aware of when wearing this type of earring is the risk of tangling. As the chains or strands of a classic shoulder duster are much longer than other earring designs, it's more likely that these can tangle with your hair or clothing if you're not careful. Avoid wearing dusters if you're planning to do any physical activity, and consider wearing sleek clothing and styling your hair in a way that will ensure the dusters can move freely.
These earrings are designed to make an impact. Usually consisting of a collection of gemstones or beads set into base or precious metals, this formal type of earring will bring a touch of drama to any outfit.
How to wear chandelier earrings
They're usually quite intricate in their design so are best paired with simpler outfits and would fit in at a dressy event. Again, these are often fastened with a hook or lever-back and similar to shoulder dusters, these do come with a risk of tangling with clothing and hair so it's important to consider this when selecting your whole look.
7. Bajoran earrings
This type of earring is actually inspired by the earrings worn by the Bajoran people featured in the Star Trek franchise, who traditionally wore only one earring in their right ear. Made of two elements, usually studs or small hoops, which are linked together with chain, these earrings create quite an impact.
How to wear bajoran earrings
They come in both formal and casual styles and are often worn by festival goers, usually in one ear similar to the Bajoran people, to create a boho look. Bajoran earrings also work well layered with other types of earrings to create a more impactful and complex look.
Pearly Skull Chain Ear Cuff in Antique Gold by Alexander McQueen.
Threader earrings are a minimalist and contemporary type of earring which is made from a length of chain or thread which is threaded through the earlobe. Both simple and understated, these types of earrings can help to create a subtle and elegant look.
How to wear threader earrings
Made from a variety of materials, they can work well as an everyday earring, or something that can be worn to compliment a bold outfit. There is no fastening with this earring, they're simply threaded through the ear to the desired length. For a more eye-catching look, a long threader can be looped through several piercing holes or can be pared with other, more complex earrings.
Amethyst Threaders from Gemondo.
9. Jacket earrings
This modern design has grown in popularity in the past five years and remains a popular choice today. It features a classic stud with a second decorative element which sits behind the earlobe. They can be made from a wide range of different metals and often feature gemstones.
How to wear jacket earrings
Jacket earrings are a versatile option as they can be worn with or without the decorative element so they're perfect for many different occasions. This feature makes them perfect for keen travelers as they can be dressed up and down and the 2nd element means you have two different looks in one single pair of earrings. They're usually quite light and comfortable and are most often fastened with a simple butterfly back.
The iconic Shaun Leane Jacket Earrings.
Ear crawlers or climbers are an eye catching and edgy design which crawls up the earlobe, following the shape of the ear. They come in many different styles, from simple and sleek, to more complex types encrusted with gemstones and are made from a wide variety of different materials and metals.
How to wear crawler earrings
Crawlers are perfect for people who want to turn heads and often opt for an unconventional look. They can be dressed up or down and can work with a wide range of different outfits, including the classic 'little black dress' or a more casual top and trouser look.
11. Clip on
Clip on earrings come in many shapes, sizes and materials and can be worn by everyone, even if you don't have any ear piercings because they have a clip fastening on the back which holds onto your earlobe.
How to wear clip on earrings
You can find both dressy and casual styles of clip on's and they're often indistinguishable from regular earrings which require a piercing hole. It's important to know that clip on's aren't the most secure of design so it's not a great option if you're going to be dancing the night away.
With so many different varieties, there's definitely a perfect pair of earrings for every occasion. Think about the type of event you're going to and whether a formal or casual look would be best. And always consider the types of clothing you're hoping to wear because this can help to pick out the perfect earring. Most people find some types of earring fastenings more comfortable than others so it's also a good idea to experiment to see which feel best to you. By having a think about these key factors, everyone can find an earring that's perfect for them.
Duxford Studios creates ethical handmade jewellery inspired by the human form, modern culture, and the sensation of touch. All of our pieces are cast from hand carved wax in recycled sustainable sterling silver, gold vermeil, and other precious metals. Shop our full collection on our website or get in contact about a custom jewellery design commission. Need help choosing a piece? Read our full guide on what to look for when buying jewellery on our blog page.