by Staff Writer
Earrings are among the most flattering of jewelry styles. Sparkling gems and precious metals brighten the face, and dangling earrings visually elongate the neck. Even the most basic gold hoops or diamond studs dress up a casual outfit and create a smart, pulled together look. There are many earrings that will flatter your look and showcase your personality. In fact, there are so many jewelry designs that shopping for the right pair of earrings can be mind-boggling. This earring buying guide is designed to help you sort through jewelry options with confidence.
Finding your style: In addition to choosing earrings that you love, you may want to consider selecting earrings that look best with your face shape and skin color. Earring shapes should balance the face instead of matching it. Round hoops soften rectangular faces, while angular earrings may emphasize sharp features. To elongate a round face, choose earrings with oblong or straight styles. Earrings with sharp angles can balance the curves of the face. Keep in mind that chunky earrings may overwhelm a petite woman's features. Balance is the key to a good fit. White gold earrings are popular right now, but yellow gold is still a classic style. Most people prefer one over the other, and many can wear both yellow and white metals. In general, white metals enhance cool skin tones and yellow metals enhance warm skin tones.
Keeping earrings in place: The earring clasp is as important as the fancy style, providing a secure closure and comfortable fit. An earring that irritates the ear or falls off easily is unlikely to be worn. Most people find one or two clasp styles preferable to the others. Experiment with the different types to find your best fit.
Posts and findings: This combination of a bar secured with a metal nut holds stud earrings in place. This style is also called friction back. Posts and findings are among the most popular earring-clasp designs.
Butterfly finding: This is the most common nut that fits over a post; variations on this design are called push-back clasps.
Clips: Also referred to as clip-on earrings, these earrings generally are designed without posts and are suitable for ear lobes without piercings. The clasp has a hinged back that snaps shut against the ear and uses the pressure to stay in place.
Clip-in: This clasp features a hinged post that snaps into a groove on the back of the earring. It is commonly found on hoops.
Hooks: This earring backing is simply a long, bent post that fits through the piercing. Hooks have several names: shepherd's hooks, euro hooks, ear wires and French wires. These are variations of the same style. Thin wire hooks reduce the weight of long earrings, making them more comfortable; however, hooks aren't as secure as other clasp styles.
Leverback: In the leverback design, a hinged lever snaps shut against a curved post to form a closed loop behind the ear. This clasp is secure and good for styles that drop just below the ear.
Omega: Also called French clips, this clasp has a straight post and a looped lever. The hinged lever closes around the post and is held against the ear with pressure.
Saddleback: This clasp is a variation of the clip-in style. The hinged post is curved to make more room for the earring to fit around the ear.
Screw back: This backing features a basic bolt-and-nut design and is a slight variation of the standard post-and-finding clasp. The nut twists onto the threaded post.
Sensitive ears: Ear piercings are just like other piercings; low-quality jewelry can cause irritation and infections. Follow a safety recommendation from the body jewelry category and choose stainless steel, titanium and 14-karat or 18-karat gold earrings if you experience irritation. Stainless steel and titanium are hypoallergenic metals, and the surgical grade alloys are safe for all ear piercings. Platinum earrings are also hypoallergenic and give you a more traditional look. The term "hypoallergenic" refers to a substance that is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction due to its composition. For jewelry, this often means a product does not contain nickel or cobalt, which are common skin irritants.
Casual earrings: For everyday wear, you can't go wrong with hoops. These gold or silver earrings feature large and small hoops of every geometric shape. If you love sparkle but don't want to wear your best diamond earrings all the time, cubic zirconia is a great alternative. CZ earrings give you many style and color options, and today's styles are fine enough for any occasion or event. Finally, who can resist the magic of gemstones? Every young girl wants some birthstone earrings, and many gemstone earrings are sophisticated enough for grown-up girls, too.
Fine earrings: You deserve some brilliant diamonds, so make sure to have a pair of diamond stud earrings to wear with cocktail dresses. Diamonds illuminate the face, and the small studs will enhance, rather than distract from, other jewelry, like diamond necklaces. When you are ready to invest in a truly spectacular piece of jewelry -- the accessory that will catch everyone's eye at every fancy party -- consider some beautiful earrings. Luminous South Sea pearls or stunning ruby earrings may be just right for you. Of course, more diamonds will make your earrings shine as brightly as your smile.
For the guys: More and more men are adding jewelry to their fashion accessories, and earrings can accessorize jeans, a suit or a tuxedo. Update your style with sleek stainless steel and tungsten earrings. Find a diamond stud in our men's jewelry department for those times when you want to impress.