At one point or another, most women (and some of the men) in the U.S. wear earrings — although men tend to have only single earrings (either small hoops or plain studs), and generally have only one, which they wear daily.  Women, on the other hand, often have multiple pairs as well as single earrings, and are likely to change them as needed for the occasion or the outfit.

Earrings are usually fairly simple in nature, so it’s hard to really go wrong with them — or is it? It may surprise you to know that the answer is unequivocally “yes,” and this can take many different forms. There are certainly odd or garish styles, or trendy looks, such as Ubangi-style disc inserts which stretch the earlobe into a distorted shape that can accommodate something the size of a silver dollar or larger, but these are a matter of personal taste, and although they might look ridiculous to many of us, are simply a form of self-expression, and may be chalked up under the category of “to each his or her own.”

There are, however, a number of ways in which you can get into trouble, all of which may be classified as security issues. Let’s start with the most obvious, which is a faulty clasp, or whatever means it is that an earring is held in place. At regular intervals, the device (or mechanism) responsible for this needs to be checked, and if you are unsure of how to go about doing this, by all means, seek the advice of your local jeweler. Clasps (particularly friction clasps) tend to loosen over time, especially if the earrings are often taken on & off, and mechanisms tend to wear out, which can lead to a loss. Even very secure closures (such as screw-backs or post and throw-over safety clasps) can fail, and it is in your best interest to be sure these are in good condition, especially for those who wear clip-type earrings for non-pierced ears.

Long dangle-style, or large hoop earrings can certainly make a fashion statement, but sometimes an extra degree of caution is needed when you chose to wear these. Be careful of prolonged wear of heavier earrings, as they tend to enlarge the hole in your ear over time. These may also pose a danger when interacting with infants, since the motion created by movement is sure to attract the attention of a child. It’s amazing how quickly a small hand can go from touching your face to yanking a dangling earring, and in fast tug-of-war situation with an infant, the chances are that either your earring or your earlobe will lose the fight.

Joe Brandt

When getting dressed or undressed, the rule-of-thumb with earrings is “last on, first off.” This not only circumvents the likelihood of catching an earring in your clothing when removing a pull-over shirt or sweater, but also avoids the possibility of having perfume or hairspray coming into direct contact with your earrings. This should be routinely avoided in any event, but is most important if you are wearing earrings that feature anything even slightly porous, such as certain colored stones, and especially pearls. Storage of earrings should also be given some consideration, as hollow gold earrings, and the clutch portion of friction-back earrings are more fragile than they would appear to be, and are easily subject to damage when simply tossed into a box with other jewelry. When transporting earrings in a suitcase or bag, care should always be taken to avoid letting things rub against one another, which is an easy way to inflict damage to a clasp or unprotected surface.   

I dare say that most women have experienced the unpleasant realization that they’re missing an earring, or have found one to be damaged. With only modest application of preventative measures, you may reduce the possibility of this occurring in the future to a bare minimum.

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Joe Brandt is a local resident, and president of J.L. Brandt Company, offering diversified fine jewelry advisory services to the general public since 1928. Readers are invited to submit questions or comments to [email protected] Names or contact information will not be used for publication, and all inquiries will be answered promptly.