Stud Earring Enhancers
Stud earring jackets are designed to surround the earring partially or completely, but they do not descend below the earlobe. A flat, pierced plate at the back of the enhancer allows the earring’s post to go through its center and hold it in place on the wearer’s lobe. Because these enhancers distribute the weight of the jacket more evenly, they are comfortable for longer wear. These designs come in various sizes to accommodate stud earrings of any diameter.
Popular styles for stud earring enhancers include rings of small pearls or colorful gemstones, geometric designs in precious metals, and figural designs. Flowers, hearts, knots, and scalloped edges are common motifs, but designers are limited only by the weight of the piece when creating earring jackets. Suitable earrings to wear with them include diamond and gemstone studs, round or oval cameo earrings, and spheres. When shopping for stud earring enhancers, note the thickness of the flat plates through which the earrings’ posts will go. A broader plate provides more stability for larger or heavier designs, but a smaller plate is less visible with smaller earrings.
Drop Earring Enhancers
Drop earrings descend below the earlobe but are not typically long enough to graze the shoulders. Earring enhancers that depend from the earlobes have an offset hole for the earrings’ posts; the weight of the enhancer is suspended from the post unevenly. Because of this distribution of weight, most drop earring jackets are a fairly modest size.
Some drop-shaped earring jackets feature a flat plate at the point of attachment; others use a loop of metal that gives the free end of the enhancer more movement and play. Favorite styles for earring enhancers include round or pear-shaped semi-precious stones that give the effect of a single pair of classic diamond and gemstone drops. Other styles incorporate geometric designs, stylized wings, and decorative scallops in precious metals. These jackets may also include smaller gemstones that surround or descend from the solitaire earrings they enhance.
Cascade Earring Enhancers
Longer earrings that hang freely and may even reach the shoulders are called cascade earrings, and some earring enhancers turn studs into these elegant evening styles. Weight is a primary concern with cascade styles. Because the weight of an enhancer is focused on a single point toward the front of the earring post and not distributed more evenly as it would be if it were a single piece, the enhancer must be light enough to avoid pulling the earring from its backing. Lightweight lengths of chain or thin metal bars embellished with small gemstones are popular cascade styles. Some contemporary styles combine a plate with an attractive geometric design resembling those for stud earring enhancers with a hanging chain or rod that has a similar shape at its free end.
Hoop Earring Enhancers
Hoops are a classic earring style, and some earring jackets convert studs into small hoops. These designs are usually hollow to keep their weight low. They are available in a range of metals and finishes to complement a variety of styles. Another form of hoop earring enhancers are designed to slip over the hoops themselves and dangle from them. These enhancers can be combined with earring jackets that turn studs into hoops, but be mindful of the total weight of the jacket plus the enhancer; together, they can pull at the front of the stud and separate it from its backing or create discomfort after a full day’s wear.
Materials for Earring Jackets
Earring jackets can be made from any material used for earrings themselves, including precious metals, gems, and enamel. Fashion jewelry versions may be made of plastic, rubber, crystal beads, or any number of other materials. The portion of the jewelry that contacts the ear should be made of a non-reactive material such as surgical stainless steel or a precious metal to avoid skin irritation in susceptible wearers.
Gold, silver, and platinum sheaths for earrings add impact and versatility. Precious metals afford jewelry designers opportunities to get creative with shapes and finishes. Earring jackets that combine a variety of metals or finishes are excellent transition pieces to unify a jewelry ensemble. With earring jackets in a combination of brushed and polished silver, for example, necklaces and bracelets in either finish work together to create a harmonious jewelry look. To reduce weight and cost, many earring jackets are made from common metals plated or filled with gold. Plating, also known as electroplating, chemically bonds gold atoms to a less expensive metal to create the appearance of solid gold jewelry. Filling or rolling is a similar process that uses mechanical means to bond gold to a base metal. Because earring jackets are changed frequently and do not receive the wear that jewelry worn daily might, they are a good choice for plating and filling as the thin sheath of gold on them will not grow thin with regular use.
Diamonds and Other Gemstones
Diamond studs can look even more dramatic when encircled with other diamonds, luminous pearls, or colorful semi-precious gemstones. One of the most traditional styles for earring jackets is a circle of smaller gems around a central stone; these enhancers are available in a vast array of colorful variations on the theme. Multiple rows of diamonds and gemstones can turn a pair of solitaire studs into large, dramatic designs. Diamonds and colored gems also enhance drop and cascade styles. One classic style features a single gemstone at the end of a gold or silver chain. Other designs are meant to look like an unbroken chain of diamonds and consist of a length of stones that resemble the stud solitaire at their point of connection.
Crystals and Fashion Earring Jackets
Earring jackets are not only for fine jewelry. Fashion accents enhance stud earrings with faceted crystals, colorful plastic shapes, or strands of beads. These accents can be used with diamonds or with inexpensive crystal or bead studs, but it is a good idea to use clear crystal or cubic zirconia earring jackets with colored gemstone studs rather than with diamonds. Genuine diamonds have a different fire and brilliance from that of simulated stones, and the disparity may be obvious when they are worn close together.