What are Chain Earrings?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Chain earrings are a kind of earrings that use one or more strands of metal chain to create a dangling, linear silhouette. These kinds of earrings can be made of many different kinds of metals which may have a variety of finishes. They can vary quite a bit in length and may or may not include other components such as gem stones, semi-precious stones, enamel charms, and metal components of other shapes. Chain earrings may be designed with a number of kinds of hooks and posts, depending on the intended look of the earrings and whether they are made for people with pierced ears. In some cases, they may have a second section that connects to a small cuff that fits around the upper part of the ear.

Chain earrings may be designed differently based on whether or not a person has pierced ears.
Chain earrings may be designed differently based on whether or not a person has pierced ears.

It is quite common for chain earrings to have colored components added into their designs. These components may be made out of stone, pearls, glass, or even plastic. One common silhouette involves a round component such as a pearl or bead that fits right under the earring hook. Hanging from this component are one or more lengths of chain. In other cases, smaller components such as rhinestones may be connected to the bottoms of each chain.

There are some kinds of chain earrings that include only one length of chain, but it is far more common for a number of chains to be used. In some rare cases, only one length of rather thick chain will be used for each earring. Sometimes all of the chains in chain earrings are gathered together to create a sort of tassel.

The length of each piece of chain used in chain earrings can vary quite a bit. In most cases, these earrings dangle down from the ears reaching about half way to the shoulders. There are other more dramatic designs in which the earrings actually touch or fall past the shoulders. These kinds of earrings are sometimes referred to as shoulder sweepers. There are also designs in which the lengths of the pieces of chain are not uniform.

Some chain earrings are designed so that the lengths of chain dangle from a hoop instead of dangling right below the earlobe. This kind of hoop may be circular or shaped like a tear drop. There are some cases in which the hoop is angular and may be square or octagonal in shape.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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