What Are Clip Earrings?

S. McNesby

Clip earrings, also sometimes called clip-on earrings, are pieces of ornamental jewelry that clip or screw onto the outside of the earlobe rather than being inserted through a pierced hole. The clip style is usually most common amongst people, usually women, who haven’t chosen to pierce their ears, though they can usually be worn over pierced lobes, too; this is particularly common for pendants or chandelier-style dangles that might be too heavy to hang comfortably in the lobe. They come in a variety of styles and there are several different backing options. Traditional designs have a hinged back so they can simply be snapped in place on the earlobe. Less common varieties include those with screw-on backs or magnetic backs. In most cases all are easier to clean and care for than standard earrings since they don’t actually enter the body, but some precautions are usually required to keep them looking their best and to maintain a shiny, clean surface.

Pierced ears is not a requirement for clip earnings, but those who do have pierced ears may occasionally wear them.
Pierced ears is not a requirement for clip earnings, but those who do have pierced ears may occasionally wear them.

Basic Concept

The main idea behind clip earrings is to allow people the freedom of wearing earrings of many different styles without the commitment or finality of having their ears pierced. Ear piercing is usually thought of as a very minor cosmetic procedure, and is one that is very popular in many parts of the world. It is somewhat invasive, though, and usually requires the insertion of a metal stud into the ear lobe that must be left for a certain amount of time in order for the skin to heal around it, effectively making a permanent hole or channel through which jewelry can be inserted. Most standard earrings require a healed piercing through the cartilage of the ear lobe.

Clip earrings may be worn by people who can't wear heavyweight earrings.
Clip earrings may be worn by people who can't wear heavyweight earrings.

People who choose not to have their ears pierced tend to be the prime users. This sort of jewelry can be a good choice for those who are undecided about piercing or want to see if they enjoy wearing earrings before making a commitment. Clip-on earrings can also be worn if the appearance of a second or third piercing is desired, or to get an idea of how multiple piercings would look.

Even people with pierced ears may choose to opt for clip-based earrings on occasion, particularly if the piercing is infected or if a particular earring style can only be found in a clip-on version. Most clips fit easily and painlessly over the earlobes whether they’re pierced or not.

Most Common Styles

This sort of earring typically comes in a variety of different styles, from the large to the more modest or understated. Clip backs are more common for certain types of earrings than others, though. Very heavy costume earrings often feature clasping grasps, for instance, in large part because heavy earrings can cause pain or injury if worn through a piercing. Most vintage rhinestone and paste jewel earrings have clips, too, usually with a screw-on back; these often came from an era before widespread piercing, and were often designed to give a temporary look of elegance to those who wore them.

Not all styles are amenable to the format, though. Hoop earrings rarely come in a clip-on version, and neither do pieces that screw into the ear to give the illusion of a seamless piece. Clip attachments on these styles often look clunky and can also be uncomfortable.

Types of Backing

Backings can vary a lot. The most common type is the basic clip-on hinge that holds on to the earlobe and can be removed by releasing the hinge. This is the most popular and usually also the easiest to wear. Screw-on backs feature a post that resembles a metal screw; twisting the post secures the earring to the earlobe. Magnetic backed earrings can be worn on the earlobes, the upper ear, or even on the nose if the magnet is small enough.

Care and Cleaning

Clip-on earrings should usually be cared for based on the materials they are made from. Earrings featuring pearls and opals should be kept in a velvet-lined pouch when not in use. Costume clip-style earrings made from base metals can be stored on an earring tree or rack, or placed in a jewelry box. Clip earrings made from precious metals are rare, but should be cared for according to the specifics of their metal and its cleaning and storage requirements.

Clip earrings may look similar to conventional earrings.
Clip earrings may look similar to conventional earrings.

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Discussion Comments


@ocelot60- If you are new to wearing clip on earrings, you should look for a pair that doesn't seem too tight when you open and close the clasp. Since you have holes in your ears from wearing pierced earrings, you will also want to get clip earrings in a style that will completely cover the holes for the prettiest look.


@ocelot60- I have worn clip on earrings for years, and I love them. They are comfortable and easy to put on and take off. I also like the fact that you don't have to worry about having holes in your ears with clip earrings.

Since you have never worn clip on earrings before, I think that you should start by buying some that are small and inexpensive. If you like them and find that they are comfortable to wear, you can try different styles and sizes.

Though the article says that clip earrings that are made of precious metals are hard to find, most jewelry stores do carry several styles. If you find that you really enjoy wearing clip earrings, you might want to invest in a special pair made of sterling silver or real gold.


I have pierced ears, but the holes have stretched out from many years of wearing heavy earrings. I think that wearing clip on earrings may be a good option for me, but I've never worn them before and don't know what to expect. Any information from someone who has first-hand experience with clip earrings would be appreciated.

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