Do your ears hang low?

We used to sing that children's song,
"Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro?
Can you tie 'em in a knot, can you tie 'em in a bow?
Can you throw 'em over your shoulder like a regimental soldier?..."

Not so funny now, is it?

Bunny, who writes La Sewista, which features her formidable sewing and craft skills, asked about earrings for two conditions: stretched holes from years of wearing heavy pierced earrings, and lobe droop, from just the years. I look at old photos of me in earrings that weighed more than a dinner knife and wonder how I endured them. Did you indulge?

For seriously stretched holes—some women split the lobe all the way— or pronounced sagging, the only remedial treatments are plastic surgeries; search "ear repair surgery" for torn holes, and "lobuloplasty", for reshaping. (Photo of damaged lobe and repair courtesy of

Since the ear thins over time, another treatment, injectable fillers, temporarily plumps limp lobes, much like facial fillers. This is a strictly cosmetic treatment and does not strengthen the tissue.

So adios, Mexican silver chandeliers with eight plump amethysts on each, because healthier statement earrings abound.

What is too heavy now will be a matter of your anatomy and tolerance. Take several pairs you can wear all day without even thinking about them, and weigh each pair on your kitchen scale. Make that range your benchmark. Most jewellers do not list weight online but will provide it if you ask. I stick to earrings around 4 grams each.

But it’s not just about weight, it is how it is distributed. The larger the surface area covered by the earring on the front and back of the ear, the more the weight is spread out.

For stud (also called post) earrings, extra-large push backs will add supportt, but if you have short hair, the back view is of large plastic discs. The lever back (also called French clip) is a more secure backing but when the earring is mostly hanging off the ear,  additional support is minimal.

Leave it to a pearl-loving jeweller to invent a better back: Judi McCormick’s Rabbit Ears (price, $US 17) are smart additions even if your piercing is still perky, because they keep stud earrings from tipping forward. (Shown on Judy's lust-worthy pearl Constellation earrings.)


Pearls, light

The Chinese freshwater variety called the "soufflé pearl" results in a strong but light pearl, perfect for glowy grownup studs.

In short, the nucleus is extracted when the pearl is drilled, resulting in considerably less weight. Therefore, a sizeable soufflé stud will be much lighter on the ear, and unlike its culinary namesake, never deflate.

The earrings shown are also from Judi McCormick, and show the magnificence; a large pearl that's light is a welcome innovation. Price, $US 595.

Drag and drop

If the earring is a drop, the longer the drop, the more drag on the hole: simple physics. You already know what designs are lightweight, such as fine-gauge wirework, and what materials to avoid: big glass or stone focal beads; elaborate, metal-intensive constructions.

If your holes have stretched somewhat, you may think that a stud is all you can have, but you can wear many other styles if they are well-designed.

Most hoops have a visible wire-latch closing which exposes stretched holes. Even huggie hoops, made to fit tightly against the piercing, will reveal a large hole. Look for a stud-to-hoop design (stoops?). These are yellow enamel with rock crystal, by Bea Bongiasca; price, $1, 149 at TwistOnline, but you can find stud-hoops at lower price points.


At least 80% of dangles use a fishhook or leverback closure, which fully reveals the hole.  Look for the less-common alternative: a stud at the top, covering the hole, and a dangle that is not too heavy.

Below, a fine-jewellery example, Monaka green garnet and pink sapphire earrings set in 18k gold with a light chain dangle. You can wear them with the green garnet and pink sappphire, or just the sapphire. Price, $US 979 at TwistOnline.

Lobes, Schmobes

Camouflage longer lobes with button styles that cover the real estate;  a generous size punches up a simple outfit.

If you want light weight but colour and interest, look for  titanium, niobium, or anodized aluminum. You'll get size, comfort, and thrilling colours.

At left, a pair that hides elongated lobes, and comes in various colourways. By Etsy seller Glampourus; price, about $US 80. Shown in purple/pink and all-gold.


Another good style for longer lobes is the dangle that begins with a stud and includes dangle elements that cover most of the lobe.

I prefer a dangle to have at least one joint so the earring moves gracefully.

Lillian Von Trapp's recycled gold 14k Bonsai earrings show this artful approach. Everything is covered, but the earring still looks graceful. Price, $US 755 at TwistOnline.

Blissfully light on the budget, too

From Vancouver's Kaju Creations, a line of polymer earrings that are cool, very reasonable (free shipping to Canada!), and cover in style. All have surgical steel posts. Please contact seller for weight if you want to be sure.

Left to right, three Kaju Creations pieces:
Terrazo midi dangles, $CDN 35
Cleo earring in "opal", $CDN 31
Sue hoop dangles, $CDN 37

Reno for fishook styles

If you have favourite dangles but the fishhook wires don't please, it's worth converting the closing to post tops.

Match the metal and be sure the hook on the new bottom element is the right size to accommodate the dangle element neatly. The old and new elements should form a harmonious new design, not just get rid of the wires.

This pair of sterling silver post with hook from Etsy seller VDIJewelryFindings is about $10; if you''re handy with needle-nosed pliers, you could do it yourself. Silver yields fairly easily but once bent, the shape is not easy to recover; gold is finicky.

If your earrings are valuable or sentimental, ask a jeweller to do the work. Trust me, you don't want to learn respect for  jewellery-making skills on your best pair!

I cannot resist: Happy New Ears!


LauraH said…
Your post brought back a lot of memories. I still have some of my big, bigger, biggest from the 70s and 80s in deep frames on the wall. Couldn't bear to let them go, they have a lot of meaning for me. And the materials you mentioned - anodized aluminum has such gorgeous colours, still love it. Think I'll take a look through your links, especially Glampourus. Thanks for this trip into my past...and maybe my future:-)
Jane said…
This was an informative post. I've been thinking about getting my ears re-pierced, but I'm allergic to everything! Son claims to have luck with his titanium pieces. Seems like there wouldn't be much of a selection in titanium. -Lily
Ms. Liz said…
My ear piercings were too low on my lobes and that always bothered me. I also had a wee bit of stretching of the piercings from wearing those pesky heavy earrings way back when. So about 15 years ago I had them fixed. A plastic surgeon sewed up the old holes ($350) and months later I had them pierced again - different spot. I have been happy ever since. The plastic surgeon did not want to do it - he said it was not worth it - but it was worth it to me. Sometimes these niggling things are worth getting done even if it is expensive. It's one less bothersome thing in your life. I no longer wear heavy earrings.
Duchesse said…
LauraH: Framing them, what a great idea! (I donated mine, but probably should have thought about potential harm to someone else.)

Jane: If you want to wear earrings, you might have a jeweller custom-make a pair with titanium findings (such as studs, hooks, butterfly backs) and see how that goes. At first I thought of suggesting you try out a titanium bracelet or ring, but the piercing can react even when the finger is happy. Sometimes the tolerance changes. n my 20s I was allergic to gold, even high-karat, but seemed to grow out of that.

Ms. Liz: I so appreciate hearing from someone who had this done. This would bug me, too—like a picture hung too high or low. Given that the procedure is low risk, why not?
Sue Nations said…
When my son was born 29 years ago, I asked the doctor if he could fix my right ear lobe. The hole from the piercing had lengthened over time (probably because I wore heavy earrings and sometimes slept in my earrings when I was young and foolish). The doctor said that was not something he could do. Finally, about five years ago, my ENT happily agreed to fix my right ear lobe. To be sure the piercings in my ears would match, she split both ear lobes then sewed them back together. After they healed, she repierced them. It was a simple, virtually painless, in-office procedure. I don't sleep in earrings any more, and I don't wear very heavy earrings any more. Getting my earlobes repaired was one of the best things I've ever done.
Duchesse said…
Sue Nations: I'd have more confidence in an ENT than an obstetrician to do that :)
I'm grateful that readers have given their account of this. One jeweller told me recently that so many of her middle aged and older customers were refusing to buy styles that showed the hole in the lobe that she had a lot of unsold inventory.
Janet Higgs said…
I use something called Lobe Wonder by Kendra Scott on my softening ear lobes. They are small earring support patches that fit on the back of your lobe. You put your earring through the hole in your lobe and through the patch at the back. They work beautifully for me. No more sagging lobes. But I haven't tried heavy earrings with them as I don't usually wear them.
Duchesse said…
Janet Higgs: Thank for your endorsement! Lobe Wonder patches are useful for post earrings. For hoops or wires, they work best if you take a push pin or darning needle and make a hole in the patch first, because you will bend the wires trying to use them to pierce the patch. (The maker says you can apply them over the earring, but I find that does not work as well. They are stickers; some women will not want the adhesive but for others they are great... kind of like an underwire bra for the earlobe. Very happy they work for you!

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