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Types of Earring Backs
There are a multitude of earring backs available to wear to secure your earrings, using different materials.
Most of us wear the earring backs that came on the earrings (usually a Scroll or Butterfly type). However, there are many more designs that may be more suitable and comfortable to wear that you can interchange with different earrings.
There are earring backs that are more suited to wearing with heavier earrings – designed in such a way so as not to pull on your earlobe.
There are earring backs which will hold your earring more securely therefore are perfect for very precious earrings, for example, diamond solitaire studs.
There are also jewellery findings that prevent hook earrings from slipping from your ear.
In this blog we attempt to cover as many earring backs as we can think of, with their advantages and disadvantages.
Table of Contents
Scrolls or Butterflies Earring Backs
These are the most common types of earring backs. Most pierced earrings come with butterfly backs.
They are also commonly called ‘Scrolls‘ or ‘Friction’ Backs or, less frequently, ‘Push’ Backs.
The design of butterfly backs is that they have a small curl, or scroll, which sits either side of the earring post, which expands and hold tight to earring posts.
They come in a variety of sizes – most people prefer larger backs, although the smaller backs are more cost-effective if made in gold.
Choose the position most comfortable for your ear lobe.
Scroll earring backs come in a variety of metals from silver, to yellow, white or rose gold and even platinum and palladium.
If you find you are allergic to costume jewellery or plated metals, use precious metals in your earring backs.
Even although the backs are not going through your skin like an earring post is, you’ll soon notice the back of your ear lobe becoming irritated to a non-precious metal earring back against your skin if you are sensitive.
If the earring back loosens there is a danger that you may lose the earring as well.
This can happen if the earring gets caught on your hair or clothing, as can happen when you pull an item of clothing over your head.
Please take your earrings out before you undress – one of the most common and regrettable things we hear in our shop from customers is how they’ve lost one of their favourite earrings after it was inadvertently pulled out.
Screw backs were generally used with more expensive stud earrings, such as diamond solitaire stud earrings.
They are also frequently used on children’s earrings.
A screw back is more secure and can’t slide off the post as butterfly or scroll backs could.
As the name suggests, the earring post has a thread running around the post and the earring back, called a clutch or ear nut, is wound around the post just like a nut.
Whilst screw earring backs don’t slide off the post we have heard that they may, on occasion, ‘unscrew’. This may not happen as frequently as a scroll loosens on a post, but even so, they are not necessarily now considered the most secure of earring backs – there are more modern earring backs which are more secure (see below).
Also, as they are harder to find with many jewellers not keeping them in stock, if the screw thread in a post becomes damaged the earring will be unwearable unless it is replaced.
These earring backs state that they are the most secure earring back, ever, and use a patented technology that says it locks and lifts the earring.
As you slide the earring back onto the earring post, three tiny ball bearings inside the Chrysmela earring back grip and lock the back onto the post. To release you pull back on the endplate and it releases the lock.
Chrysmela earring backs can be used on any earring post from 0.6 mm to 1.1 mm thick, as the micro ball bearings adjust to fit any size post.
They are hypo-allergenic with any part which touches skin being plated in either platinum, 24k gold or rose gold.
The inner part of the earring back is made from surgical steel.
Lox are a fantastic invention. An engineer created them after his wife lost her favourite earring on their driveway outside their home.
While they searched extensively for the earring, they never did find it. LOX was created to solve this not-infrequent and upsetting problem.
You merely slide the LOX earring back onto your earring post and stop where ever is most comfortable for you. The earring back grips rigidly to the post. The secured back will not budge, even with some degree of pressure.
To remove the backs, you grip the little metal and plastic levers and squeeze which releases the hold on the post and the back easily slides off the earring post. Fantastic!
LOX come in gold-tone or silver-tone hypo-allergenic metal and you get two pairs in a pot. They can be swapped and used on any of your earrings.
Because LOX earring backs slide on and ‘grip’ the earring post you may find that they make miniscule scratches on the earring post, particularly on softer metals such as gold, although you would have to look for an eye loupe in order to notice them.
I use these earring backs on my own diamond solitaire earrings and I figured it is a tiny price to pay for not losing a diamond solitaire earring and the cost and hassle of replacing it.
At worst, I could have the gold post recovered in gold, although it’s unlikely this will ever be necessary.
I’ve been using the LOX earring backs for nearly three years and the marks to the post are very slight.
You don’t see that many earrings around which have clip-on backs. Therefore. they are much sought-after by those who don’t have their ears pierced.
Easy to wear even for those who have pierced ears.
They have a flat piece which closes by way of a hinge positioned at the bottom of the earring.
As clip earrings are so easy to put on and take off, they are great for those who have a busy lifestyle.
French Clips or Omega
These are a cross between a clip-on earring with a pierced fitting.
They close from a hinge at the bottom of the earring and have an open oval shape which the post of the earring sits into, in fact the shape is exactly like the Greek letter Omega, from which their name (or one of them) is derived.
These are great earring backs, they are comfortable to wear and look great but, sadly, you don’t see them being sold on many earrings these days.
Earring Backs For Extra Support
Plastic Ear Backs with Silver Bullet Clutch Back
For Drop Earrings
Also called hook earrings because they are just that, a wired hook in silver, gold or other metal which bends up and over.
They are balanced by the weight of the earring hanging from the bottom of the wire at the front.
A great addition to hook earrings are Plastic Earring Safety Backs for Hook Earrings (below)
Plastic Earring Safety Backs for French or Hook Earrings
These fabulous little plastic cylinders slide on to the end of your hook earrings and stay in place.
This means that, if you get the earring caught and the hook begins to slide out of your ear, the plastic will hold the hook in your ear before you lose the earrings.
Having lost one of my favourite earrings on a train once, I wish I had been wearing some of these on my hook earrings. You sometimes don’t realise how much you love a pair of earrings until you lose one.
Latch Backs of Saddle Backs
You see these more with hoop earrings – the post, often with a little flick at the end, sits or clips into a curved saddle shape to hold the post to the other end of the hoop.
These are secure but can loosen over time – ask your local jeweller to tighten them a little if they become loose.
Leverbacks or Continental Fitting
These earring backs are used on drop or dangle earrings.
These fittings are hinged at the bottom with a spring which closes the earrings back against the wired which goes through the ear.
They are very secure and perfect from medium to long dangle earrings.
How to Tighten a Butterfly or Scroll Earring Back
As already mentioned butterfly backs can become loose with repeated use leading to them sliding easily on and off the earring post where it won’t grip as it used to.
Therefore, it is easy to lose an earring back.
These can be tightened, but it needs to be done with some care. The “scrolls” of the earring backs can be gently squeezed together – either ask your jeweller to do this for you or do it yourself.
If you do this yourself, you will need a pair of fine-nosed pliers, inserting the end into each scroll and, gently, turning or twisting the pliers towards each other until the desired tension is achieved.
Where Can I Replace My Earring Backs?
Any jewellers will have spare earring backs in stock.
Butterfly backs should be easy to get hold of in silver, gold and plastic.
Replacement French Wire hooks are also easily replaced.
To Sum Up ...
We recommend LOX, for two pairs they are excellent value and can be interchanged between your earrings.
When you add up what you’d spend on replacement butterfly backs, and also factor in the cost of losing an earring when a back has fallen off, they prove to be very cost-effective.
Chrysmela claims to be the most secure earring backs ever, although they are a pricier choice. Well worth it, though, to keep a pair of beloved earrings secure.
We hope this has taken some of the confusion out of the subject of Earring Backs and you are clear on what to replace a lost earring back with next time it happens.
As always, let us know your experience with different earring backs or if you have any questions about them.