Stud earrings have the appearance of floating on the ear or earlobe with no visible (from the front) point of connection. Studs are always made on the end of a post that goes straight through the ear or earlobe. A removable friction back or clutch holds the post in place (also known as a butterfly scroll). A stud earring is made up of a gemstone or other ornament mounted on a narrow post that goes through an ear or earlobe piercing and is held in place by a fixture on the other side. Solitaire diamonds are the most common type of stud. Some stud earrings are constructed so that the post is threaded, allowing a screw back to hold the earring in place securely, which is useful in preventing the loss of expensive earrings containing precious stones or made of precious metals.
Hoop earrings are circular or semicircular in shape and resemble rings. Hoop earrings are typically made of a metal hoop that can be opened to pass through an ear piercing. They are frequently made of metal tubing with a thin wire attachment that penetrates the ear. The hollow tubing is permanently attached to the wire in front of the ear and slides into the tube in the back. The tension between the wire and the tube holds the entire device together. Other hoop designs do not complete the circle, but instead penetrate the ear in a post, employing the same attachment techniques as stud earrings. The continuous hoop earring is a variation.
The earring in this design is made of a continuous piece of solid metal that penetrates the ear and can be rotated nearly 360°. One end is permanently connected to a small piece of metallic tubing or a hollow metallic bead. The other end is inserted into the tubing or bead and tensioned to keep it in place. The sleeper earring is a type of hoop earring that is typically made of gold and has a diameter of about one centimeter.
Hinged sleepers, which were popular in the 1960s and 1970s in the United Kingdom, are made up of two semi-circular gold wires connected by a tiny hinge at one end and fastened by a small clasp at the other to form a continuous hoop with a fastening mechanism that is virtually invisible to the naked eye. Sleepers are so-called because they were intended to be worn at night to keep a pierced ear from closing, and were often the choice for the first set of earrings immediately following the ear piercing in the decades before ear-piercing guns using studs became commonplace, but they are often a fashion choice in themselves because of their attractive simplicity and unobtrusiveness.
A drop earring is a type of earring that is attached to the earlobe and has a gemstone or ornament that dangles from a chain, hoop, or similar object. These ornaments range in length from very short to extravagantly long. Droplet earrings, dangle earrings, and pendant earrings are some other names for these earrings. They also have chandelier earrings that lead to elaborate, multi-level pendants.