Last updated on May 24, 2023
Choosing the earring’s front design is the first thing we focus on; however, its backing type is also an important consideration. This detail not only helps to keep your earring securely in place but also comes in many shapes and sizes, making it hard to choose the right one. Luckily this guide covers different earring backing types and explains the difference between them.
Friction back, also known as push back or post back, is one of the classic choices for various earring types, including stud and drop earrings. It consists of a flat plate with a hole the size of the post, which glides onto the post of the earring and is held in place by friction. Often the post has a notch so that the backing snaps into place.
Friction backings come in a variety of styles and sizes, so they can easily be matched with any earring design and are probably one of the most convenient to use. A variation of friction back is the butterfly backing. It features the same mechanism but has two small loops, like butterfly wings. The bullet back is also a variety of friction back shaped like a bullet.
The disadvantage of friction backs is that they lose their grip on the earrings’ post through repeated use. Sometimes the tension can be readjusted by a jeweller; however, this type of backing usually needs to be replaced with time.
Jumbo earring backs are the oversized variety of friction backs. They differ from the classic version in size, hence the name. Jumbo backs feature a larger plate making them easier to manipulate and providing added security. They are used to keep larger earings from dropping; however, they are also more expensive than regular push backs.
Screw backs, also known as threaded backs, are another classic choice mainly used for stud and drop earrings. This type of earring backing has a post with a thread and a back like a nut that screws onto it up to the back of the earlobe. Screw back is a very secure option, especially for high-valued earrings. It cannot be pulled off, instead, it has to be unscrewed.
The downside of the screw backing is that the post may cause irritation depending on the size of the hole in your ears, as threaded posts are usually slightly thicker and edgier than regular friction posts. Moreover, with frequent wear, threaded posts may become stripped, which would result in having them replaced.
La Pousette Backs
La pousette backs, also known as positive locking and guardian backs, are cleverly designed mechanical backings. They feature a spring-loaded arrangement that is activated by pressure. When you pinch the tabs on the sides of the back, you retract connections inside the back that come in contact with the notched post of the earring. Releasing the tabs engage the connection, making the backs stay tightly in place.
La pousette backs are very secure and comfortable, but they are also among the most expensive due to their complexity. This is the reason they are usually used on valuable jewellery.
The hinge back, also known as a saddleback, is a popular backing type used on hoops and huggie earrings. It features a hinged post that snaps onto a groove on the back part of the earring. Hinge backs are secure and comfortable to wear. However, to make sure the earring is closed, you should hear a snap.
Ear wires, also known as French wires, shepherd hooks and fish hooks, are hooked wires made of precious metal without a back that goes through a pierced earlobe. They are usually used on dangle and drop earrings. The earring with this backing type stays in place due to its weight.
Ear wires are easy to put on and take off; however, this type of earring backing is not among the most secure options if the wire is not long enough, so there is a higher risk of losing the earring when you move around.
Kidney wires are a bit different compared to French wires. They feature a long hooked wire that goes through the ear hole and a partial loop that closes the earring so it cannot fall off from the ear. The shape of the backing looks like a kidney, hence the name. Kidney wires are favoured in modern designer earrings as the long curve is the dominant part of the entire design.
Lever backs, also known as European backs, are popular earring bakings used for the drop, dangle and hoop earrings. Lever backs feature a curved wire that goes through an ear hole and a hinged lever part that closes the back. This backing type is a secure and comfortable option; however, it is also expensive as it contains more precious metal.
Latch backs are mostly used on drop, hoop and dangle earrings. They feature a curved or straight wire that goes through the ear hole, but unlike lever backs, the latch backing’s post snaps into a small hole or latch. This backing type is comfortable to wear; however, it also has a downside. You should feel the post lock into the latch; otherwise, the earring may slip from your ear.
Omega backs, also known as French clips, look similar to clip-on earrings used for non-pierced ears and are popular for drop, hoop and dangle earrings. They feature a post that goes through an ear hole and an omega-shaped part that securely closes the back, hence the name. It is worth mentioning that this backing type is not as secure as screw backs or la pousette backs; however, it is more secure than ear wires.
Omega backs are comfortable to wear and easy to put on and take off. However, some people find them pinch their ears, so it depends on how sensitive you are.
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