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Types of Earring Backs

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Two diamond studs with earring backs on

Attention earring lovers! It’s time to take a moment to appreciate the unsung heroes in your life: your earring backs. Because let’s face it, without these reliable little sidekicks, you wouldn’t be able to securely wear (and flaunt) all your fabulous “ear candy” – whether it’s your power hoops, sparkly drops or dainty diamond studs.  

But, as you may have already discovered, not all earring backs are created equal. Some, for example, may not be sturdy enough to hold heavier earrings in place (causing the dreaded droop) while others are so tight that they can irritate and infect your earlobe (ouch). 

So, how do you find earring backs that are compatible with your earrings and your personal needs and preferences? Keep reading to find out!  

 

11 Types of Earring Backs

Luckily there are many options to choose from. Ahead, we’ll provide a breakdown of 11 earring back types and discuss which style of earrings they pair best with, as well as the pros and cons of each in terms of security, comfort, ease of use and aesthetics. 

 

Earring Backs for Studs  

Is there anything more timeless or classic than a pair of diamond, pearl or colored gemstone stud earrings? Equally suited for everyday wear and fancy occasions, studs are an A+ addition to any earring collection. If you're in need of earring backs for pierced stud-style earrings, here are a few options to consider.

Push Backs 

A push back, also referred to as a friction back or butterfly back, is an earring back you’re probably familiar with. It has a flat metal plate with a hole in the center that slides onto an earring post and presses up against the ear, with two curled up, butterfly-shaped wings that grip the post in place using friction.

Pairs with: stud-style earrings and lightweight dangles and drops.  

Pros 

  • Easy to push on and pull off  
  • Cost-effective 
  • Small and discreet, making them a good option for small earlobes 
  • Different sizes and metal types available  

Cons 

  • Provides less security that other backs; can lose grip with prolonged use  
  • Dirt, debris and bacteria can build up in the curled wings, resulting in smelly “ear gunk.” (Learn more about how to keep your earrings clean here)  
  • May snag on an item of clothing or piece of hair or poke ears when lying down or sleeping

Bullet Backs

A variation of a push back is a bullet back, which you guessed it, resembles a bullet. Bullet backs also use tension or friction to cling to the earring post, although many are lined with soft rubber or latex to maintain their position.

Pros 

  • Easy on, easy off
  • Minimalist design
  • Different sizes and metal types available
  • Less tendency to develop ear gunk 

Cons

  • Don’t work well with heavier studs (earrings tip forward or can fall out because there is no counterweight to it)

Pairs with: small studs and fishhook style earrings.

Screw Backs 

If you’re looking for a back that offers more security than a push back or bullet back, screw backs may be for you. Like their name suggests, these backs fasten earrings into place with a screw-on mechanism or ear nut. This type of earring back only works with threaded earring posts, however, to allow for the ear nut to be rotated or screwed into place behind the ear.  

Pros 

  • Suitable for a busy and active lifestyle 
  • Good for sensitive ears; allows you to customize tightness 
  • Can hold high value diamonds and gemstones of larger carat weight 

Cons 

  • Can be a hassle to get them on and off (lots of twisting!)  
  • May be more expensive compared to other options 
  • May need to replace when threads wear down 

La Pousette Backs  

For an earring back that offers the best of both worlds—the security of a screw back and the ease of use and comfort of a push back—opt for a La Pousette back. Also called locking backs, they feature a flat, disc-like design and pressure-activated spring lock mechanism. When you press the tabs on each side and slide the post through the hole, it automatically locks into place when you let go of the tabs.  

Pairs with: all types of earrings 

Pros 

  • Less likely to loosen over time or slide off if the earring is pulled 
  • Has a slim profile
  • Works well to stabilize heavier earrings

Cons

  • May be more expensive compared to other options
  • May be hard to handle if you have arthritis or any other condition that makes it hard to pinch the tabs on the side of the disc

Flat Backs 

Have a new piercing or advanced cartilage piercing (helix, conch, daith, tragus or rook)? Give flat backs a try. They sit flat against your ear (no poking!) for a comfortable, secure fit that also promotes healing. Flat backs consist of a thin, bendable post with a pin-like top (this can also be in the shape of a ball). The earring post of the flat back is inserted through the back of the ear, and the pin of the earring itself is pushed into the hole from the front. 

Pros

  • Hygienic; less dead skin build-up compared to butterfly style backs
  • 24/7, comfortable wear (no poking since post is inserted into tubelike back) 
  • Sleek, low-profile look  
  • Can be made threaded or threadless 
  • Available in different shapes like circle, oval, heart, triangle, etc.  
  • Comes in different measurements so you can get the perfect fit for every one of your piercings 

Cons 

  • May require customization and installation at piercing studio to trim length of stud to fit your piercing  
  • May not be suitable if you have a metal allergy since it sits against skin 
  • Trickier to insert and remove than traditional backs 

 

Attached Earring Backs 

Want a hassle-free earring back that you’ll never have to worry about losing? We’ve got three good options: lever backs, latch backs and omega backs. Unlike traditional backs that detach from an earring post, these backs are part of the earring itself. Let’s take a closer look at each one. 

Lever Backs  

Lever backs feature a distinct, hook-shaped ear wire that passes through the pierced ear and locks into place with a lever-hinged back. 

Pairs with: studs, dangles, drops, hoops and gemstone settings.  

Pros 

  • Secure closing mechanism  
  • Functional yet elegant design  
  • Disguises the weight of your earrings on your ear lobes   
  • Easy to clean and maintain 
  • Comes in a variety of metals  

Cons 

  • Difficult to fasten for some 
  • Limited adjustability  
  • Potential for snagging 

Latch Backs  

Latch backs have a curved or straight-hinged post that goes through the ear piercing and snaps into a small hole or notched groove, like a latch on a gate.  

Pairs with: circular style earrings like hoops and huggies, as well as dangle and drop earrings.  

Pros  

  • More secure hold on heavy and large earrings 
  • Stylish look 
  • Cater to a wide range of earring styles 

Cons 

  • May be more expensive than other backs

Omega Backs

An omega back, also known as a French Clip, is shaped like the Greek letter omega (Ω). It has a hinge with a looped omega that slips over the post and puts light pressure on the back of the ear lobe, securing the earring to the ear.

Pairs with: dangles and drops.

Pros 

  • Luxurious look 
  • Provides more stability and support for heavier or more elaborate earring styles 
  • Comes in a variety of metals

Cons 

  • Bulkier than other earring backs 
  • Possible pinching for sensitive ears 
  • May be more expensive due to the additional design features

 

Earring Backs for Heavy Earrings

If you fancy big, bold earrings that dangle and sway like chandeliers, shoulder dusters, or tassels, you need earring backs sturdy enough to prevent them from tilting forward or slipping off. Here are three viable options.  

Monster Backs  

Say goodbye to saggy, droopy earrings with the use of a monster or jumbo back. Monster backs are a version of a push back but have a wider diameter to help keep your earrings upright.  

Pros

  • Beneficial if you have torn or stretched ear piercings 
  • Easier to handle than other backs thanks to the larger diameter 
  • Available in a variety of metals and sizes 

Cons

  • May be more expensive than other backs

Comfort Clutch Ear Nuts  

A comfort clutch ear nut is essentially a bullet back that sits inside a clear and round plastic disc. The disc helps to support and distribute the weight of heavier earrings, keeping them secure and sag-free during wear.  

Pros 

  • Easier to handle than other backs 
  • Inexpensive; can buy in bulk  
  • Available in 100% rubber or silicone

Cons 

  • May cause pressure on earlobe or feel tight

Rubber Backs  

Rubber back earrings, also called rubber back stoppers or rubber-grip nuts, are made of clear silicone rubber. This jack-of-all-trades back works in a pinch to secure any type of earring from studs to dangles to fish and shepherd hooks. Rubber backs are small yet mighty, firm yet squishy and come in a variety of shapes (bell, tulip, bullet, petal, wheel) and sizes.  

Pros

  • Provide a snug fit
  • Hypoallergenic; a good alternative for those with metal allergies 
  • Translucent, making them barely noticeable  
  • Inexpensive; can buy in bulk  
  • Comfortable and lightweight 

Cons 

  • Not recommended for use with high value earrings 
  • Easy to lose 
  • Wear out quickly; turn yellow after a while 

 

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Earring Back  

When it comes to selecting the ideal earring back, here are five factors to keep in mind.  

  1. Comfort: You want your earrings to not just look good in your ears, but feel good too, especially if you plan to wear them for extended periods. Earring backs should sit comfortably in your ear without causing any pain or poking. With so many earring back types available, there’s no need to sacrifice comfort for added security. You can have both.
  2. Earring Style: Different earring styles may work better with specific types of backs for optimal fit and appearance. For example, stud earrings typically pair better with push backs or screw backs whereas heavier, dangle earrings may pair better with lever backs or monster backs.
  3. Lifestyle: If you lead an active lifestyle or engage in activities that may put stress on your earrings, opt for more secure earring backs that can withstand movement and impact, reducing the risk of accidental loss or slippage (Psst...screw backs or monster backs should do the trick!).
  4. Ease of Use: Consider how easy or difficult it is to take your earrings on and off for you. Some backs, like push backs or bullet backs, are straightforward to use. Others, like screw backs or La Pousette backs, require more effort and dexterity.
  5. Skin Sensitivity: If you have sensitive ears or known metal allergies, look for earring backs made of hypoallergenic materials like titanium, surgical stainless steel, gold, platinum or niobium to prevent any adverse reactions. Silicone and rubber earring backs are also good picks if you prefer to wear a softer material.  

Once you determine which type of earring back suits you and your earrings the best, protect any valuable earrings by obtaining personal jewelry insurance through Jewelers Mutual. It’s an affordable option that covers loss, damage and disappearances.  Check your rate using the button below. 

 

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About Jewelers Mutual Group

Jewelers Mutual was founded in 1913 by a group of Wisconsin jewelers to meet their unique insurance needs. Later, consumers began putting their trust in Jewelers Mutual to protect their jewelry and the special memories each piece holds. Today, Jewelers Mutual continues to support and move the industry forward by listening to jewelers and consumers and offering products and services to meet their evolving needs. Beyond insurance, Jewelers Mutual’s powerful suite of innovative solutions and digital technology offerings help jewelers strengthen and grow their businesses, mitigate risk, and bring them closer to their customers. The Group insurers’ strong financial position is reflected in their 37 consecutive “A+ Superior” ratings from AM Best Company, as of November 2023. Policyholders of the Group insurers are members of Jewelers Mutual Holding Company. Jewelers Mutual is headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, with other Group offices in Dallas, Texas and Miami, Florida. To learn more, visit JewelersMutual.com.