Earrings aren’t just a piece of jewelry — they are a fashion statement. They portray a message about who you are and what you like without even saying a word. The backs of your earrings also make a statement: They say “I’m really secure” or “be careful when wearing me” depending on which type of back they are.
Push backs, also called friction backs, are the most common type of earring back. You secure earrings with a push back by simply sliding the back right up the earring post until the earring is firmly in place. Push backs are most often used for stud earrings or lightweight drop or dangle earrings. They are not very secure, so use care when changing or doing your hair while wearing push-back earrings.
If you want a little more security, opt for a screw back. Screw backs resemble push backs, but instead of a smooth post, screw back earrings have a grooved post that literally requires you to screw the earring back in place. Screw backs are often used on expensive varieties, like diamond studs or platinum earrings, or on children’s earrings because they are less likely to fall out.
The lever back consists of a curved piece of metal that goes through the ear and a metal latch that goes over the curved piece to hold the earring in place. Lever-back earrings are designed to fit perfectly on your ear to maximize comfort. This type of backing is most often used for drop or dangling earrings.
Latch backs are generally used for hoop earrings only. Some latch-back earrings contain a hinged post that goes through the ear and then snaps into a notch on the other side of the earring to secure it into place. Other latch-back earrings have a post that doesn’t move. The post goes straight through the ear and then slides right into a hole on the other side of the earring to create a continuous loop.
French wires are only used with drop earrings because they rely on the weight of the earring to secure it in place. The French wire is a curved wire hook — often with the earring attached directly to the hook — that slides right through the ear and hangs there. French wire earrings are also referred to as fish hooks. For added security, you can add a plastic earring back to the end of a French wire earring. These are simply plastic pieces that slide right up the post and secure the earring in place.
Clip earrings are for those without pierced ears. Clip earrings contain a clip on a hinge that latches onto the earlobe to hold the earring in place rather than securing through a hole in the ear. You may also opt for clip earrings for heavy costume jewelry pieces that could stretch or damage your ear piercing due to excess weight.
References and ResourcesAllurez.com: Earring Buying Guide: Backing Type
The Diamond World Inc.: Common Earrings Style and Post and Back Types
Brilliance.com: Earring Guide
Shane Co.: Our Earring Styles