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Although ear piercing and the wearing of earrings dates back thousands of years, Victorian mores in the late 19th century believed that ear piercing was a vulgar practice, and no self-respecting woman would even consider putting holes in her ears for the sake of wearing jewelry. As a result, screw-back and clip-on earrings were worn instead.

In the United States, the modern practice of ear piercing didn’t start to come into practice until well into the 1950s, and even then it was done mainly by teenage girls and young women — who often pierced one another’s ears at home. The next decade saw the practice more widely accepted, with both doctors and jewelry stores offering ear piercing as one of their services. By the 1970s, ear piercing was quite common, and department and jewelry stores were displaying all sorts of earrings in their showcases.

Earrings can now be found in countless colors, styles, shapes and sizes. To better understand the different types of earrings, here are brief descriptions of the main categories they fall into.


Simple and elegant, studs are probably the most popular kind of earring. They fit right against the ear and often feature a single diamond or gemstone. Studs can provide a classic, understated look with formal evening wear, but they are also perfect for everyday activities or when playing sports. Women with a narrow or square-shaped face look great in studs.


Both traditional and dramatic, hoops will never go out of style. They can be simple or elaborate, small or large, gold or silver — the possibilities are endless. Hoops make a statement. They look great on women with square-shaped faces.


From casual to elegant, dangles can be worn on just about any occasion. They work well with short hair or an up-do, and they look fantastic with an off-the-shoulder dress. Dangles can stop just below the earlobe or extend down to the neck. Women with round, oval, diamond or heart-shaped faces look great in dangle earrings.


Drop earrings have a long, curved attachment that goes through the earlobe, and a small ornament hangs off in front. The attachment hangs parallel to the neck in the back. Drop earrings are great for the corporate environment, as they can be dressy without looking like they just came from the red carpet. Chandelier earrings are a more elaborate version of drops.


Huggie earrings are tiny hoops — much like rings — that hug the earlobe. They may have small stones for a bit of sparkle, but they aren’t long enough to get in the way for those who are active and on the go.


Clusters press against the ear as studs do, but they are much more decorative. They usually feature a set of precious stones in a specific shape or pattern and can be quite beautiful and artistic.


Born from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Bajoran earrings have taken on a life of their own. Styles vary greatly, but the design generally features a decorative chain that attaches to a dangling element, and the other end of the chain is worn (clipped or cuffed) high up on the outer ear. Bajoran earrings are often worn in just one ear.