Choosing Pearl Earring Backs

The humble earring back is an essential element of any earring design, and yet can so often be overlooked when choosing pearl earrings. Earring backs are the small gold or silver part of an earring that pushes onto the earring post to hold the earring safely in place against the earlobe.

The ideal earring back is designed to be robust enough to last hundreds of applications, is very comfortable to wear and balanced without dragging the sensitive part of the ear forward. It can also accomplish much more, contributing to the elegance of an earring when worn.

What are the main types of earring backs and what should you consider when buying a pair of earrings? There are really four main types:

PUSH-ON SCROLLS AND BUTTERFLIES

These are the traditional metal earring backs that are shaped like a butterfly, or a number eight, and are simply pushed onto the back of an pearl stud earring. Push-on scroll and butterfly backs are perhaps the most widely worn earring backs, but also carry the highest risk of loss of an earring if they slip off. Transparent plastic or silicon backs may allow a larger earring back to remain discreet and can be very comfortable.

SCREW-ON BACKS

These are gold or silver backs that are screwed securely onto the post of the earring. Although less convenient to take on and off, screw-on backs are much safer than scroll and butterfly backs and are typically used when paired with larger earrings such as South Sea pearl earrings.

ALPA EARRING BACKS

For precious and more valuable gold pearl earrings, an Alpa earring back combines the convenience of the push-on butterfly with the safety of the screw-on back. Each Alpa back, pictured above, has two small clasps that have to be released once the back has been pushed onto and locked into place on the earring post. The mechanism is easy to use and is by far our choice for designer pearl earrings.

There are many aspects to consider when choosing a pearl earring back, including safety, ease of use, durability, quality of the finish, cost and, of course, style.

Most jewellers will match their earrings with the most appropriate earring back, however, some earring backs can be quite versatile and easily interchangeable once purchased. Ask your jeweller to check the thickness of the post to be certain that the new back will securely hold the earring in place. With the correct back, it will become so easy to take the earring on and off that wearing a favourite piece of jewellery can become second nature.