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Earring Backings Guide: What are the best earrings backs to buy?

By  , Friday, July 20, 2012 2:51 AM

I’ll never forget my first pair of diamond earrings. They weren’t those incredibly valuable oversized diamond studs you see on the red carpet, but they were made of real, small, diamonds and they were the perfect finishing touch for any outfit. I wore them with t-shirts and jeans at home, to work, and then, to my friend’s wedding. It was at the end of the wedding, after an evening of eating, drinking and dancing, that I put my hand to my ear and realized, with horror, that my beloved earring was gone.


One frantic hour of searching later, the earring showed up, on the floor near the photo booth. The earring back had somehow slipped out and the earring had slid out of my ear without my noticing it. Little did I know at the time that when you buy quality earrings—earrings you don’t want to lose—the choice of earring backs is almost as important as the choice of the earring itself.


Earring Back Options -1

Earring Back Options -1


When you buy earrings, especially if you are spending more than a few hundred dollars on them, make sure that you know what kind of earring back are best for your needs, and insist on being provided with that kind of backs. Most jewelers offer more than one kind of back, and will be happy to provide you with the best fit for your lifestyle.


The main varieties of earring backs for quality earrings are:


Friction back — The most common type of earring back, this consists of a small metal piece that is simply pushed onto the earring post behind the earlobe and is held in place by friction. Although easy to remove and good for simple, everyday earrings, these are not a good choice for more valuable diamond earrings. Over time, this back can gradually loosen and slide down the post, potentially falling off and allowing the earring to slip off your ear. Heavier earrings may put pressure on the back, pressing them uncomfortably against the delicate skin of the earlobe. Finally, if your earring is pulled or jerked with enough force, the friction back can pop right off, allowing the earring to come off as well.


Screw back — As its name implies, these earring backs work with a post that is threaded, like a screw. The back is gently screwed onto these ridges for a slip-proof, tight fit. While these are one of the more secure varieties of earring back, the threaded post may be less comfortable for those with sensitive ears. If you like switching your earrings every day, these earring backs are slightly more time-consuming to remove.


Earring Back Options -2
Earring Back Options -2

Jumbo friction back — For those with sensitive ears, for whom screw backs are not comfortable, jewelers recommend jumbo friction backs. While they are similar to regular friction backs in terms of how they work, the extra size gives them a bit more stability and weight, which can add security. For an even more secure fit for those with sensitive ears, jewelers will sometimes offer a small plastic disk to accompany the jumbo screw back earring back.


La poussette — This is a mechanical earring back that offers the best of both worlds in terms of comfort and security. A flat metal backing with two tiny clutches, one on each side, the earring back remains securely in place until you gently squeeze the two clutches to release it. Unlike the friction back, the la poussette cannot gradually loosen with wear and cannot slide off if the earring is pulled. Additionally, the post used with this earring back type has a small groove towards the end that makes it extremely unlikely that the earring could slide off by accident. However, when you do want to remove the earring, the process is as simple and quick as if it were a friction back. For heavy earrings, the la poussette style earring back also prevents drooping by holding the earring comfortably snug against the ear. Since this earring back style is considerably more expensive to produce, many jewelers offer them only with their most valuable earrings, if at all.


Before you buy earrings, especially if they are expensive and important to you, make sure you try each of these earring back types and decide which one is right for you.


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