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Guide on Everything You Need to Know About the Different Types of Earrings

Posted by Jessy L. on 19th Apr 2023

Guide on Everything You Need to Know About the Different Types of Earrings

Guide on Everything You Need to Know About the Different Types of Earrings

Icon Jennifer Lopez said, "Women should not go without earrings. Passing on them is an opportunity missed." And we have to say we agree. Every opportunity you have to wear earrings, you should.

They express your personality, brighten your face, and turn an ordinary outfit into a fabulous one. Plus, there are so many types of earrings out there. You should make every effort to try every single one to work out which you love the most.

But there are so many different types of earrings, you may not even know what they are so you can sample them all.

Don't sweat! This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about the different styles of earrings. It includes different earring materials and fastenings too.

All 20 Different Styles and Types of Earrings

Yes, there are as many as 20 different types of earrings! As trends continue to change and transform, there will likely be more in the future. But for now, these are the main types of earrings and the essential information you should know about them.

1. Stud Earrings

Studs are, by far, the most common types of earrings. They are simple, small, and consist of a single post that fits through the piercing. The decorative part does not hang or drop in any way.

This type of earring never goes out of style and it is one of the most practical to wear every day. Stud earrings are perfect for the office, working out, running errands, and casual events. They are ideal for lobe ear piercings as well as some helix ones.

People who do not like to change their earrings often nor take them out to shower and sleep prefer these types of stud earrings. Although your jewelry will last longer if you do remove them during these activities!

But studs can be dressier and eye-catching depending on the design. For example, pearl studs are elegant and classic. And some disc studs can be as big as a penny. 

These types of earrings are easy to match and wear with statement necklaces and huge bangles. They will not pull focus away from your other jewelry.

2. Teardrop Earrings

Teardrop earrings look like they sound. They are earrings in the shape of a teardrop, which means they dangle off the lobe. But it's crucial to note that they are discreet earrings and only dangle a little off the lobe by a centimeter or two.

They are a step up on the smart-casual scale from studs. Women like to wear them when they want to feel a little dressier without the earrings distracting from the rest of their outfits. These types of earrings are perfect for fancy dinners and job interviews.

Teardrop earrings have a reputation for being popular with older, well-dressed women. They are less popular with teens and women in their early 20s. But they make great heirloom jewelry and dip in and out of fashion sometimes.

These types of earrings often have a singular teardrop gemstone as the focal point. They are often sold as part of a matching earring and necklace set which also consists of the same gemstone.

3. Dangle Earrings

Dangle earrings are like teardrop earrings but aren't specific about the shape. It describes a different type of earrings that have a design that drops below the earlobe on one mobile chain. Popular designs include crosses, stars, moons, flowers, and abstract shapes.

They often hang further down from the ear lobe than teardrop earrings.

This is a very common type of earring. There are everyday styles and dressier styles of dangle earrings. You should always take them out before showering or sleeping as they will tangle.

4. Drop Earrings

Where dangle earrings move as you do, drop earrings are sturdier. They hang from the lobe via one fixed piece of metal and most have one fixed gemstone or shape at the bottom. 

They're more popular with older working women as statement earrings. They look best worn by themselves or paired with minimal jewelry.

These are more modern and practical types of earrings. Drop earrings move in and out of fashion, whereas dangle earrings are almost timeless. Wear these earrings with crisp, structured blouses and suits for a powerful look. 

5. Jacket Earrings

Jacket earrings are like studs and drop earrings combined. Imagine a stud earring and a connecting piece of metal that hangs from the back of the stud and behind the earlobe. This metal has a small design that hangs on the end.

It's also like a drop earring if the chain were on the other side of the ear lobe and it's rigid. The "drop" part often hugs the lobe too. They suit both lobe and helix ear piercings.

These types of earrings used to be an alternative, counter-culture style. But over the last couple of years, cuter and more feminine styles have become available. They're increasing in popularity with teenage girls, young women, and members of the queer community.

Jacket earrings can be a smart or casual piece of jewelry. And thanks to their rigidity, they're a lot easier and more comfortable to wear than dangle or drop earrings.

6. Tassel Earrings

Didn't think earrings could be fun and playful? Think again! Tassel earrings have fringe pieces of fabric, lace, string, or leather hanging down from a stud. 

While these types of earrings can have gemstones, pearls, or other embellishments, they often don't. They're available in a range of fun colors and are statement pieces of jewelry. Wearing them with tasseled necklaces and bracelets might look a bit much.

Tassel earrings are a summery, relaxed style of earrings and are popular with women who dress in boho and hippie fashions. It's common to see them worn at music festivals for this reason.

7. Cluster Earrings

Cluster earrings are dangle earrings but turned up to 11. Whereas dangle earrings have one chain adorned with decorations, cluster earrings have three or more chains. The chains are often mobile, of varying lengths, and have a stone or decoration at the bottom.

Like teardrop earrings, they're often sold as part of a matching set. For example, a pair of cluster earrings with three pearls and a pearl necklace.

They're a little more fun than simple dangle earrings and they're perfect for parties and occasions. As long as you don't mind the jingling sound so close to your ears, they're modern, fun, and cute.

8. Chandelier Earrings

Are you ready for the most extravagant, the most opulent types of earrings in existence? Then prepare to find out more about chandelier earrings. 

They look a lot like their cascading light fixture namesake. These types of earrings could consist of different gemstones, metals, colors, fabrics, or all the above. The only rules that chandelier earrings follow are that there aren't any rules except that more is more.

If you are creative or have a vivacious personality, then you could pull off these earrings at work or wear them out for drinks. Wear your hair up to show them off and team them with minimal rings and bracelets.

9. Shoulder Duster Earrings

Shoulder duster earrings could also be chandelier, cluster, tassel, drop, and dangle earrings. As long as they are earrings between three inches and your shoulder in length, they are shoulder dusters. Yes, these are very long earrings.

Shoulder duster earrings are slender because when earrings are wide and long then they get very heavy. They often consist of many gems along one chain or very long tassels. Tassel earrings are popular shoulder duster earrings because they are lightweight.

These types of earrings gained popularity in the 1930s when women wore bobbed haircuts. These statement earrings still work best with shorter hair as they are redundant when hiding under long hair. They're not a common style of earring, but they've never 100% gone out of fashion.

Because shoulder dusters are impractical (they get caught on everything!), they are ideal for evening wear. You can team them with a block color pantsuit or a minimal slip dress.

10. Huggie Hoop Earrings

Huggie hoops are the studs of the hooped earring. They fit snug around the ear lobe or cartilage so there is little (or no) empty space between them. 

These types of earrings are a popular fashion trend right now. They're common with people of all genders with more than one ear piercing. You can wear many huggies of varying diameters so they appear to cascade down your ear.

Many people choose to wear huggie hoops, as they are an ideal everyday earring. They don't tend to have any embellishments and are minimalist and discreet. They're easy to wear with layered chain necklaces and costume jewelry.

11. C-Hoop Earrings

One step above huggie hoops is C-hoop earrings. These are hoops that are not a full circle because there is a section missing. This is why they look like the letter "C." 

C-hoop earrings can be plain bands of varying thicknesses or there can be some decorative component. They can also have a huge diameter or a very small one, though the latter is more common in this type of hooped earring.

People choose C-hoop earrings over regular hoop earrings because they prefer the back closure. C-hoops fit onto a post like a stud earring. But this means the end of the C-hoop can get caught on your hair or clothing.

12. Hoop Earrings

These types of earrings are complete circles that hang from your ear. Unlike huggies, there is a notable gap between the part of the earring that dangles and the ear itself. These earrings are common lobe earrings, but some people wear smaller hoops in helix and tragus piercings. 

Hoops that are between a penny and the top of a coke can in size are timeless. Many women's signature earring style is the hoop and they can pull it off year after year. Smaller, discreet hoops are also popular but large, oversized hoops fall in and out of fashion.

It's not a great idea to wear hoop earrings 24/7 as you are likely to damage them if, for example, you lie down wearing them. Only wear hoops for special events and for office jobs where you don't need to worry about them getting caught on things.

13. Straight Barbell Earrings

On the surface, straight barbell earrings may look exactly like stud earrings. They are similar but have a couple of differences.

First, barbell earrings tend to be thicker for non-lobe piercings. Second, most barbell earrings have a fixed ball on the back and a ball that you screw on at the front. Their design means they are more durable so you can wear them 24/7.

These are common in younger generations who have far more non-lobe piercings than older people. Most piercing professionals will use these simple earrings for new piercings. 

14. Circular Barbell Earrings

The terms "circular" and "barbell" shouldn't work together, but it's the best way to describe this type of earring. They have the thickness of other barbell earrings with a ball in the middle to join the circle together. The ball screws on, like straight barbell earrings, to form a very secure hoop.

Circular barbells are a less common option for professional piercers to use so they're more of an individual style choice. Most people who wear this type of earring are doing so because they have a non-mainstream look. Rockers, punks, and people who like to dress in androgynous clothes like these earrings.

They're perfect for both lobe and non-lobe ear piercings. These earrings are more secure than other types of hoops as they don't tend to have a wide diameter. They are safer and more comfortable to wear daily.

15. Horseshoe Barbell Earrings

Like straight barbell earrings, horseshoe barbell earrings are thicker than regular stud earrings. This makes them ideal for non-lobe as well as lobe ear piercings. The only difference between this type of earring and a straight barbell is the shape.

It has a horseshoe shape so both of the balls dangle. The bar has one fixed ball (often the one at the back) and the other is a screw-on ball.

16. Bajoran Earrings

Before you learn about Bajoran earrings, you must first learn a little more about the TV show Star Trek. The Bajorans are a humanoid species on the show that lives on the planet Bajor. Their faith dictates that they wear an elaborate earring on their right ear.

It consists of a lobe and helix piercing attached via a loose, dangling chain. When this style of earring grew in popularity, it seemed natural to call them Bajoran earrings!

They are an uncommon type of earring because the wearer would need to have two piercings with adequate distance between them. But they are growing in popularity and celebrities often wear fake ones to red carpet events.

17. Ear Crawlers

Ear crawlers (or ear climbers) are earrings that help you fake having many ear piercings when you only have one. They are stud earrings with an elaborate design that extends up the cartilage of your ear. This creates the illusion that you have more piercings.

Most ear crawlers are only a centimeter or two in length and only cover the lobe but some are longer. They're very much in style right now and are popular among people who cannot, or don't want to, get more piercings. 

These are the perfect earrings to wear on a day off from a job that doesn't allow excessive jewelry (flight attendants, actors, etc.). 

18. Ear Cuffs

There are two types of earrings that you don't need a piercing to wear. The first are ear cuffs. These are circular earrings with a small opening that allow you to slip them over the outside of your ear. They give the illusion that you have a helix, conch, or lobe piercing depending on where you place the cuff.

Like ear crawlers, these are in style right now among people of all genders in younger generations. They're cool and available in a range of designs and sizes.

19. Clip-On Earrings

The second type of earring that you don't need a piercing to wear is clip-on earrings. These earrings attach with a hinged mechanism rather than via a small hole in your ear. You likely played dress-up in earrings like these when you were little!

But clip-on earrings have come a long way since then. There is a much wider variety of clip-on styles and designs available now. Stud, dangle, tassel, teardrop, and drop can all be clip-on earrings. 

They are a lot easier to pass off as real earrings so you could consider them if you don't have pierced ears.

20. Lobe Plugs and Tunnels

Lobe plugs or tunnels are not earrings but they are another type of pierced ear decoration. You can only wear these accessories once you've stretched a pierced ear hole to a large gauge. Plugs are solid and tunnels have a hole you can look through.

These are uncommon piercings and are popular with people of all genders who enjoy alternative fashions. It's likely that people with plugs also have other body piercings and modifications like tattoos. Stretching the gauge on your lobe ear piercings is a big commitment as these holes are permanent.

All 9 Different Types of Earrings Backs

Not only are there many types of earrings, but there are also many different types of earrings backs. Here are nine of the most common styles so you can choose the best option for you.

1. Pushback Post 

This is, by far, the most common type of earring back. You'll see it on all types of earrings including teardrop, drop, dangle, tassel, and, in particular, stud.

Pushbacks are small pieces of metal or plastic that fix onto the end of a post earring back. They hold in place thanks to friction and a small groove at the end of the post. Metal butterfly pushbacks are the most common type, but some are clear plastic cylinders.

2. Screwback Post

Screwback post earring backs are like pushback post earrings but are less common. Instead of pushing this type of earring back onto the post, it screws.

They are much more secure but difficult to take on and off. Earrings are small and intricate enough as it is. And if you have long nails, forget about trying to unscrew those tiny pieces of metal!

3. Fish Hook 

Fish hooks (or French hooks) are when the back of the earring is a thin wire that curves downward with a flick at the end. There is no fastening to this ear back as the length of the wire ensures it stays in the piercing. Some people wear clear plastic backs pushed onto the fish hook wire as an extra precaution.

You'll see these types of backs on clusters, dangles, chandeliers, and shoulder duster earrings.

4. Long Hook

Like fish hooks, long hook backs are thin pieces of wire that extend through the piercing and out the other side. It doesn't flick up at the end and it is much longer than a fish hook back. 

Because they are more visible than fish hook earring backs, these types of backs are a design choice. They're more common on large chandeliers, tassels, and shoulder duster earrings. But they're far less likely to slip out of your ear than other types of hooks!

5. Hoop Wire

Hooped earrings (not C-hoops, huggies, or circular barbells) are one, continuous circle. So how can they slip into your ear piercing? Magic?

Not quite; hooped earrings have an opening. One part of the opening is hollow. The other part has a small, thin piece of sturdy wire that slips through the piercing and into the hollow end. 

These types of earring backs are more secure for hoops than pushback posts. You will only see this type of earring back on hooped earrings.

6. Lever Back

Lever backs have a hinge on a spring that closes around a small piece of curved wire that fits through the piercing. These types of backs are common on dangle and teardrop earrings.

One main advantage of lever backs is that the earring cannot slip out of your ear. And there is no small piece of metal, like pushback post earring backs, that you can lose.

But it is a less common type of earring back nowadays. Although, you will still find vintage jewelry with lever back fastenings.

7. Latched Back

Also called English locks, latched back earrings are a little different from lever backs. For starters, the earring still has a post that fits through the piercing. The hinged part, which has a hole at the end, then snaps up to the post and slots into place.

They are snugger on the lobe than lever backs but leave more room than hinged backs. Latched back earrings are common with dangle, drop, teardrop, and other similar earrings.

8. Hinged Back

Hinged backs, or saddlebacks, are common on huggie hoops. They allow the earring to become a complete circle without leaving excess space below the lobe as lever backs do.

The hinge looks like a tiny little door opening on a huggie hoop which allows it to thread through the piercing and snaps shut. They can be tricky to operate. That's why they're used for earrings like huggie hoops that you don't take on and off often!

9. Thread Back

Like wire and long hooked fastenings, thread backs are thin pieces of wire that you push through the piercing and they hang out of the other side. Unlike other types of hook earring backs, it is a mobile chain with a small piece of sturdy metal on the end. This is only to help you push it through the piercing.

Because it's so visible, this type of earring back is a design choice for statement earrings that dangle. One of the advantages is that there is no back fastening for you to lose. But it might feel a little strange to pull a chain through your ear when you're putting them on and taking them off.

5 Common Materials Used to Make Earrings

Plastic, glass, wood, and enamel are all common materials used in making the decorative parts of earrings. But the body of the earring and the back fastening almost always consists of various types of metals.

Ear piercings are body piercings which means some metals make better materials for earrings than others. Here's a breakdown of all the most common types of earrings so you can choose the best one for you.

1. Gold

Gold is a hypoallergenic metal mixed with alloyed metals to ensure it is strong enough to mold into jewelry. Different alloys product different colored gold, for example:

  • Yellow gold - copper, and zinc
  • Rose gold - copper
  • White gold - nickel, and zinc

It's one of the most common metals for earrings. If you have sensitive ears, look for 14k gold earrings. Avoid gold-plated earrings, as the gold will soon rub off and tarnish.

2. Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is also a popular material for earrings because it's strong and cheaper than gold. Sterling silver consists of 92.5% real silver and 7.5% base metals.

But sterling silver will soon oxidize and tarnish in pierced ears. It's better for other types of jewelry that don't interact with piercings.

3. Surgical Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a great combination of durable, hypoallergenic, and difficult to tarnish. It's one of the best materials for piercings. Professional piercers prefer to use jewelry made from this material for new piercings.

Its base color is silver, but painted surgical stainless steel earrings are available in many different colors.

4. Titanium

Medical or implant-grade titanium is strong, lightweight, and perfect for those who are allergic to nickel. It has similar qualities to stainless steel but it is often more expensive. And it's a less common material for earrings for this reason.

But if you buy a pair of titanium earrings, you can be sure they will last for years. Palladium and platinum are also strong and long-lasting metals for earrings. Though they are also less common and more expensive than other metals.

5. Base Metals

There are many types of base metals but copper, lead, nickel, tin, aluminum, and zinc are the types most often used in jewelry. All base metals are common and inexpensive. 

By themselves, they do not make good materials for earrings. They are quick to tarnish, oxidize, and bend out of shape. They are not hypoallergenic and will affect anyone with sensitive ears. 

Bronze and brass jewelry with high levels of copper, tin, and zinc will sometimes leave a green residue on your skin. 

Matching Types of Earrings With Face Types

One of the last things to consider when choosing between different types of earrings is whether the style will suit your face shape or not. If you know what face shape you have, you can use this guide to choose the right earrings for you:

  • Oval face - huggie hoop earrings
  • Diamond face - stud earrings
  • Heart-shaped face - teardrop earrings
  • Round face - drop earrings
  • Square face - hoop earrings

These styles of earrings will flatter your natural bone structure. But it's important to remember that if you love wearing a pair of hoop earrings despite having an oval face, you should still wear the earrings. You should wear whatever style of jewelry makes you happy! 

Which Style of Earrings Do You Love the Most?

Now you know there are too many types of earrings in the world to wear the same ones over and over. Life's too short not to have fun and be creative with your jewelry! Experiment with different styles and see which types suit your face and personality.

Body Pierce Jewelry has a huge selection of earrings in a variety of metals and embellishments. From huggies to hoops, you are sure to find your new favorite pair of earrings at our store.

Check out the earrings section of our online store to browse our options!

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