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The Best Earrings

Last updated on February 8, 2022

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It’s the little things that bring a successful outfit together — and in the case of earrings, we mean that literally. People put a lot of thought into the tiny decorations we put in our ears, especially considering that we can’t even see them while they’re on. But others certainly can, and no other accessory can bring attention to our face like an attractive set of earrings.

Now, clearly the goal is to turn heads, but the sheer variety of earring types can make your own head spin. Unlike with other kinds of jewelry, statistics like carat weight and gold purity aren’t the best indicator of quality. Even the most dazzling diamond won’t do your look any favors if the shape doesn’t complement your face.

The most popular type of earrings are studs, and there’s a good reason for that. Since they’re small and don’t jut out past the earlobe, they can be worn in the most active situations without getting snagged on hair or parts of your outfit. The low profile means you can match them with the most casual clothes or expensive gown, and they’re equally suitable for any face shape.

Hoop earrings stand out a bit more, and the larger ones can really make an impression. They usually work best with long, angular faces, but your hairstyle makes a difference. Hoops can be especially impactful with short hair or upswept locks.

If you really want your earrings to be seen, though, go with something in a drop or dangling style. Drop earrings can do wonders for those with rounder features, and side-swept or shoulder-length hair will augment the benefits.

Now about the materials. Before you go checking for sparkling stones, check the metal that they’re set in — and not just for cosmetic appeal. No matter how alluring your earrings look, it’s not worth the pain if you have a metal allergy. Rashes and irritation may result from the wearing of gold or silver jewelry,  but in most cases, you’re actually reacting to the presence of nickel.

The less pure your gold or silver is, the more nickel there is mixed in. To alleviate those allergies, you’ll want to stay with gold that’s at least 18K, sterling silver or white gold made from a palladium alloy. Alternatively, you can go for stainless steel, which still may have traces of nickel but hopefully not enough to trigger any allergies. The trick is to try different materials and see what works for you.

Now about those stones. While diamonds aren’t the only gemstones you can find in a quality set of earrings, they do lend a certain classic appeal. Just make sure you know that there’s a reason earrings will list “total carat weight” when referring to their stones. It refers to the weight of both the diamonds combined, not each one.

If you really want to show off the sparkles, know that it’s a tradeoff when it comes to setting. A four- or three-prong setting is common for fancy diamonds, the “prongs” being the tiny arms that hold the stone in place. Just know that prong settings are also the most fragile. If you want a little more durability, opt for a basket setting that completely encloses the bottom of the diamond.

Speaking of durability, make sure the backing is secure. You’ll find a varied selection of types, from French hooks to latch backs that you often find on hoop earrings. Push backs, or butterfly closures, are the most popular way to keep an earring in place, but loose ones are a telltale mark of cheap jewelry. If you’ve got more time (and some nimble fingers), the much less common screw-on backs will greatly decrease your chance of losing those precious accessories.

Our Picks For The Top Earrings

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Product Overview
Our Take
 Top Pick

HIGHSTREET Gold Plated Sterling Silver Drop Chain Earrings

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

HIGHSTREET

Gold Plated Sterling Silver Drop Chain Earrings

These dressy earrings convey fragile elegance from the dangling gold chain to the sparkling zirconia. Don't worry, though — they're actually quite manageable and built to last. The flat backing ensures they are easy to put on and hard to lose.

Overall Take

Dainty But DurableSay goodbye to lost backings with these well-made, delicate accessories.

 Runner Up

PAVOI Hypoallergenic Thick Open Hoop Earrings

PAVOI

Hypoallergenic Thick Open Hoop Earrings

Thick hoops are a great choice if you want to make an impression, even with longer hair. That's not the only striking feature of these earrings, which are kind to sensitive wearers in several different ways: they're also hypoallergenic and very lightweight.

Overall Take

Sleek and BeautifulThese hoop earrings make a beautiful impression without weighing you down.

 We Also Like

Anne Klein Cushion-Cut Cubic Zirconia Drop Earrings

Anne Klein

Cushion-Cut Cubic Zirconia Drop Earrings

The cut of the cubic zirconia and a swooping style are ideal for formal occasions, yet the length isn't so long that you can't show them off on casual nights out. The metal won't irritate sensitive skin and a low weight means they're easy to wear long-term.

Overall Take

Formal Yet FunctionalThese lightweight earrings are a great complement to formal or casual wear.

 Strong Contender

Wssxc Assorted Sizes Cubic Zirconia Stud Earrings, 5-Pairs

Wssxc

Assorted Sizes Cubic Zirconia Stud Earrings, 5-Pairs

This dainty stud earring set is made for comfort. The earrings go in securely and the stainless steel setting means those allergic to other materials can breathe easy. These are a great choice for those getting their ears pierced for the first time.

Overall Take

Safe MaterialThese smaller stud earrings give you elegance without the skin irritation.

What to Look For

If you’ve got metal allergies but still love the look of your gold or silver earrings, don’t throw them away. You’ve still got a home remedy that will allow you to wear them as long as you don’t mind a little upkeep. Before donning your metal earrings, simply coat them with a couple of layers of clear nail polish and allow it to dry. That will create a nice barrier between your ears and any harmful alloys.

More to Explore

Ear piercing is a rite of passage for certain girls these days. But who first got the idea to do it, much less put jewelry in there? No one knows for certain, but in 1991, a 5,300-year-old mummy dubbed Ötzi the Iceman was found in an Austrian glacier with ear piercings (and expanded earlobes).

Actual earrings have been unearthed from multiple countries that date back to the Bronze Age. Judging by art of the time, those earliest earrings would have been an adornment exclusive to those who held the wealth — and that meant men. However, in other ages and different parts of the world earrings were mostly worn by slaves, prostitutes or criminals.

Body piercing of different kinds appears to have emerged independently in North America, the Amazon, Asia, Africa, New Zealand and Polynesia, starting with the ears. You’ll find several references to earrings in the Bible and other holy texts from around the world.

More to explore