What are Ear Cuffs?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ear cuffs are pieces of jewelry that are designed to hug the upper portion of the ear. An individual wearing them does not need to have pierced ears, because the earring is designed in a curved shape that fits snugly around the folds of the outer ear. They are widely used in many cultures as decorative jewelry, and come in a variety of metals and designs to serve as accessories for a wide range of personal styles. Many jewelry stores carry or will order ear cuffs, and people interested in purchasing them can also use Internet resources.

The upper portion of a person's ear does not need to be pierced to wear ear cuffs.
The upper portion of a person's ear does not need to be pierced to wear ear cuffs.

A very basic cuff may be little more than a plain band of curved metal or wire. Wire ones are very common and are usually made by twisting several pieces of wire together into swirling, curvy patterns that can cover any portion of the upper ear. Plain metal bands are often decorated with etched designs such as stripes, dots, or spirals.

More commonly, ear cuffs are designed with decorative features like earrings that dangle from them or gemstones. Strings of beads can be suspended from them, as can decoratively shaped wire, bone, wood, and metal ornaments. In some cases, these decorative pieces may be designed to detach, while in others, the jewelry takes the form of a solid piece. Gemstones are usually set into the side of the cuff that is designed to face out, so that they can be clearly seen.

Some cuffs are designed in the form of specific, rather than abstract, shapes. They may take the form of a clinging female body, a leaf, or a type of animal such as a frog. Usually, this jewelry is cast as a solid piece of metal, and it may also be ornamented with small gemstones. Although they are commonly very simple, in some cases, these designs may allow for dangling ornaments to be attached.

The metals used to make ear cuffs vary widely, and common choices include silver and gold, although titanium, copper, and other metals can be used as well. The potential for allergic reaction is less of a concern than with earrings, because the cuff does not penetrate the body, although some metals may cause the skin to change color. People who know that they are sensitive to a particular metal when it is used in necklaces, bracelets, and other fully external jewelry should also avoid it in ear cuffs.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I really want a nose piercing, but I've read about it, and it could cause some problems. Should I still go along with it?


When is it safe to start wearing them?


To answer some questions below: Ear Climbers are just ear cuffs that cover a larger area of the ear, and do not require a piercing. As for sizing, they're sort of one size fits all, but I own several sterling silver cuffs and all of them can be adjusted very easily.


I'm sixteen years old, and my ears are *very* small. Do ear cuffs come in sizes? Or are they one size fit all?


are there ear cuffs in jewelry stores that require a person to pierce their upper cartilage?


I've also heard of Ear Climbers. Is this the same concept or do you have to have to have your ears pierced for them?


Are these the same as clip on earrings?

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