Earrings: Fashion First

For centuries, many cultures have practiced ear piercing. In certain cultures, ear piercing celebrates a coming-of-age. In tribal cultures, the ears were pierced with precious metals to ward off demons, as the belief was foul spirits could enter the human body through the ears. Apart from the earlobe itself, piercings can be placed on virtually any part of the ear, including the helix or cartilage, the rook, the snug, the conch, or even the anti-tragus, which is the inner ear cartilage.

There are many types of earrings, but the most common are stud, hoop, and dangle earrings. Stud earrings are typically straight stemmed, with decorative fronts and removable backings. From the front view, studs appear to float on the ear lobes without any visible backing.

Hoop earrings, as the name implies, are circular or semi-circular. They look very much like rings and are often made of metal tubing. Dangle earrings, on the other hand, are designed to hang from the bottom of the earlobes. They are available in various lengths and are attached to the ear by thin wires that hook at the back. This is a variation of the famous French hook design, which simply allows the earring to hang from the earlobe without closure.

Presently, it has become fashionable in some sub-cultures and even in the mainstream, to use body-piercing jewelry in lieu of conventional earrings. These unconventional pieces are often worn by punk rockers, body piercing and tattoo enthusiasts. The pieces include captive bead rings (or CBR), barbells, circular barbells, banana barbells, flesh plugs and flesh tunnels.

Captive bead rings, also known as ball closure rings, are a style of body piercing jewelry consisting of ring with a small gap for insertion through the ear. The gap is closed with a small bead held in place by the ring’s pressure. Larger gauge ball closure rings exert considerable pressure, and may require ring-expanding pliers to insert and remove the bead. Be careful!

For those who want to wear earrings without getting any piercings, there are a number of options to choose from. Popular choices are clip-on, stick-on, ear cuff, ear screws and spring hoop earrings. Though there can be no accounting for taste, for those who run in more conservative circles (or tasteful ones), there is nothing that compares to a pair of respectable pearl earrings.

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