Pierced or non-pierced earsMany people have their ears pierced because:
they can't find earrings with unpierced fittings
they find clip or screw fittings uncomfortable
they find pierced earrings more secure.
they prefer the way it looks.
For most, this works reasonably. Some people wear sleepers (when not wearing earrings) to keep the holes open.However, some can't manage with piercings, either:
because the holes heal amazingly quickly, or
allergies mean that they have a reaction/infection when they are in intimate contact with various metals/finishes
cannot manage with most pierced fittings as they find them
don't like pierced ears
Looking at earring fittingsThere are an amazing number of ear fittings about, some you see everywhere, some very common in particular areas, some are around but aren't always easy to find and some are about as rare as hens' teeth!Options for pierced earsVery common:
Fish Hook This is, is made in one piece with a loop at the front with coil and ball, then curves over in a 'u' shape and the long curved tail behind the ear. There are modified versions: Shepherds Crook without the ball or coil, or Balian Hook (wonderful to dance in) which has a longer back wire. These are comfortable so long as the wire is not too thin and the drop is not too heavy. Some versions have a flattened area above the coil. These can be uncomfortable because of the weight is distributed at the top point of the curve, or insecure (badly designed weight-wise) - and need a butterfly/scroll/earnut to secure them.
Ear Posts which come with a butterfly/scroll. These are a straight bar with a ball at the front and usually a loop hanging below the ball. They are considered by their devotees to be more comfortable because they are thicker wire and the weight is evenly distributed across the inside of the ear lobe, and secure because they come with the butterfly.
Kidney Safety wires come with a loop at the front and a hook that wraps around the straight back wire. Very secure, but still have the pressure point from the weight at the top of the wire.
Earhoops (which thread through the ear) - these are much favoured by many, but can be difficult or painful to thread if the end of the narrower wire is sharp. With the earhoops, particularly the larger ones, as with all 'big' earrings, there is the danger of clothing catching in them, and the earlobes getting ripped.
The Lever Back has a loop at the front with a lever behind it. The whole makes a fat oval shape the back coming down to fit inside the lever behind the ear - Not a quick job to put them in - very fiddly - but a very secure fitting and more comfortable than a fish hook.
The Creole is a smaller heavier hoop with a thin top loop with a hinge at one side and a groove or hollow to fit into at the other side. A fiddly design to put on, not as comfortable as a Shepherds Crook, but secure when on.
The Ear chains or Ear threads, which are either: a fine chain, or a chain with a u' shaped wire attached to the middle of the chain, or a u' shaped wire attached to one end of the chain. All have a straight wire thread attached to one end and a loop to the other end . These thread from the straight end and rest with the 'u' wire, or chain, in the ear, and any drops on the loop. The threading wire can also go through multiple piercings with a bead hung from each piece of looped chain. For balance the drops or beads have to be light, hence the ear chain is comfortable, but a bit of a performance to insert.
Options for ears that are not piercedFor those who want non-pierced fittings it is important to have the fit secure and comfortable. If the adjustment is done properly you can even bellydance in any of these fittings!
Ear clips are hinged at the base with a loop at the front and an angled back. They come in a variety of forms and sizes.
With a loop there are light small clips, clips with a small pressure point at both front and back, clips with a narrow pressure point at the front and a wide spread behind, and clips with large pressure points front and back. The comfort of each of these varies dependent on the make, but the softer metal clips can be gently eased or tightened with small pliers to get a comfortable fit. The hard metal clips are fine if immediately comfortable, but a pain (sometimes literally) if difficult or impossible to adjust. Try to discuss this with your retailer, it should be possible to get the clips sorted out. At our website designed for you (http://www.designed-4-you.com) we try to ensure that all clips are comfortable or adjusted for comfort.
Without a loop are clips with a pad or claw fit for stones or cabochons to be fitted to. These can come in a variety of styles, from plain modern to Victoriana, the former being the common versions to find. The comments above as to fit also apply to these.
Ear Screws are an 'u' shaped fixed size into which the ear lobe is eased, then the screw is tightened behind the ear until a comfortable fit is found. Finding the comfortable fit takes practise, but is possible.
Ear screws with a hinge are perhaps the best of the ear fittings for unpierced ears. The hinge is opened to fit the earring, closed then screwed to the best fit. The advantage of this fitting is that to take the earrings off the hinge is opened and the comfortable position is maintained for the next time the earrings are worn. These are as easy as clips to put on, and have the advantage of fine adjustment.
Earring fittings - what are they made of?Many countries, certainly all those in the EU are required to follow the EU Nickel directive which bans nickel from coming into intimate body contact including earrings for pierced ears.So now, generally earwires and pierced fittings are made from silver or gold plated brass.
Some are given an antique finish
Some are coloured gunmetal or antique copper.
For those who have difficulties with brass plated earrings there are other choices:
Sterling Silver (92.5% Silver),
Vermeil - 24 carat gold plated over Sterling Silver,
9 carat Gold - (37.5% Gold),
Rolled Gold - brass and gold pressed and rolled together at high heat,
Surgical Steel - considered hypoallergenic,
Titanium - for those intolerant to metal fittings,
Which can be obtained at reasonable prices (some are only available as Shepherds Crook fittings).Less common and at more expense:
18 carat Gold
24 carat Gold
can be found, and in some countries gold-filled ear wires are available.There is usually less choice for non-pierced earring fittings.Commonly available are:
Gold and silver plated brass fittings
Nickel ear fittings (still available for non-pierced ears)
Sterling silver ear screws can be found - at a price
9 carat gold ear screws are even more costly
Sometimes antique silver plated and gold plated brass can be found.
To date we have been unable to find more variety for non-pierced ear fittings but we continue to look.ConclusionThere is then a reasonable choice in ear fittings, and there are some of us around who try to make that choice available.