While the trend for layering and stacking offers the chance to indulge in as many precious pieces as you wish, it also lends opportunity for more personal expression. As multiple piercings and a curated combination of studs, huggies, hoops and cuffs have become much more mainstream, earring designs have evolved – now, symbolic amulets, numbers, quirky motifs, emojis and even emblems of our favorite foods are appearing on our lobes.
“You can tell so much about someone based on their ear stack – whether it’s big and bold, timeless and classic, or a mix,” says Roxanne First, who designs petite huggies featuring mini charms crafted from colored sapphires and diamonds. “It’s also so easy to change your look, depending on the occasion or vibe that day.” This ability to switch things up is highly coveted, as none of us are the exact same person one day to the next. “The combination of pieces in an ear stack can reflect both personality and mood,” concurs New York-based designer Melissa Kaye, whose signature, bright enamel designs are an instant mood-lifter. “By varying earring size, finish, shades of gold, diamonds or enamel, and the quantity of piercings, you can tell different stories,” she says.
Interpreting these stories can take a degree of imagination, depending on the pieces you choose. “Even your choice of symmetry or asymmetry in your ear stack can convey different facets of your personality; a symmetrical stack may represent balance, while an asymmetrical one can signal creativity and a willingness to embrace the unexpected,” says Sophie Howard, founder of By Pariah, whose birthstone hoop earrings are a chic way to acknowledge the birth dates of loved ones in your life. The bonus of subtle designs is the ability to be cryptic: you can wear emblems that are significant to you, without ‘shouting’ about what they represent.
Meanwhile, with more obvious pieces, such as Foundrae’s ‘Wholeness Heart Beat’ single earring, Yvonne Léon’s irreverent crab-inspired earrings, or Sydney Evan’s ‘Love’ motif studs, the sentiment and storytelling is instantaneous. “Earrings can last a lifetime and really reflect where you are in life,” says Maria Tash, whose ear-piercing and fine-jewelry empire has made her a leading tastemaker in ear curation. “The earrings I wear today are different from the pieces I wore 30 years ago, but I still use many of the same piercings I had then, just with different styles. You can even tell a story by how pieces relate to each other – these combinations illustrate your personality and show the rest of the world what you find fascinating.”
So, how do you begin selecting pieces to reflect your personality and style? “There are so many different combinations that you can try to personalize your look,” says Tania Nawbar, the co-designer behind L’Atelier Nawbar’s bold ‘Bamboo’ hoops and enamel ‘Mini Lady Sursock’ styles. Tash, meanwhile, tackles an earscape in the same manner she does getting dressed. “I think of curating an ear like choosing the perfect outfit: every component works together for a combination that is all the wearer’s own. Great curation is imaginative and memorable, and there are several ways to achieve it,” she explains. The piercing pro suggests balancing three forces: skin tone, personal aesthetic, and the weight and style of the pieces that are placed next to each other. “Try holding white, yellow and rose gold up to your face to help you decide what resonates best,” she suggests. “When it comes to styling, be intentional about composition – you can play with symmetry, patterns or themes. The choices are endless. Then, balance your anatomy with the shape and size of the jewelry, considering the way different designs can emphasize or obscure parts of your ear.” It’s important to think outside the box when it comes to gemstones, too – there is an endless color palette of semi-precious stones that can create striking combinations.
However, this approach doesn’t necessarily require copious amounts of piercings. Robinson Pelham, a London-based brand, is renowned for its ‘Ear Menu’ – a huge array of studs, huggies and hoops that can be edited to suit the wearer’s personality, lifestyle and desired look. Within this offering, ear cuffs are a key player. “It’s a fun process and has the ability to totally transform,” says Vanessa Chilton, co-founder of Robinson Pelham. “We like to dress our clients with a ‘Pixie’ cuff (great for drawing the eye diagonally upwards from the cheekbone and accentuating ‘lift’) or an ‘Orb’ cuff, no piercing required. A cuff can instantly elevate your look from everyday to edgy – it introduces a bit of attitude to the ear.”
If you do have multiple piercing placements, Chilton advises placing the longest earring in the lowest lobe piercing, then creating a fan-like effect going up the ear, with earrings gradually getting shorter until the mid-point, before moving up to the cartilage with studs or medium hoops. Above all else, there is one golden rule to adhere to: “Be true to your style, and trust your instincts,” says Tash. “And be sure to have fun as you go.”