The Hole Truth

Posted by Rebecca Stone on September 21, 2010
Sep 212010

OK. I am starting to design earrings in earnest, and — well — I have a confession to make. I don’t have pierced ears. And, yes, I realize that as far as jewelry designers go, I’m probably in the minority here.

It’s not that I don’t like earrings. I do. Very much. I just like my ears more. Why should I subject them to disfigurement? While I realize that many people go for piercing to better keep track of their earrings, I guess I’ve always been willing to risk the occasional loss in favor of avoiding the unfortunate elongated hole look some women develop as they age. And as far as comfort? It’s true that clips can pinch, but it’s been my experience that you can find ways to adjust them in order to eliminate this problem, while keeping them fairly secure. And I’m talking about more than “walk-in-the-park” secure.

Hooks or clips? Many earrings can go either way, and I think everyone (whether pierced or intact) who wants to should be able to wear beautiful earrings.

Hooks or clips? Many earrings can go either way, and I think everyone (whether pierced or intact) who wants to should be able to wear beautiful earrings.

As a former belly dancer, I can claim a lot of experience in the non-pierced earring department. Earrings are a major component of a dancer’s costume and, back in the day, when I could still recognize my waistline, I wore some whoppers: big, bangly hoops, draped in coins and lots of dangly sparklies. I danced my way through college, after college and into graduate school without any serious earring mishap. True that I occasionally lost one (why always just one?? Like socks in a dryer, I guess). But it’s not like it flew off in the midst of a shimmy-spin into some guy’s drink or anything. And I sure never put anyone’s eye out with an earring launch. They would usually just mysteriously disappear — sometimes only as far as my dance bra or harem pants (this was the ’70s and early ’80s — I don’t think they wear harem pants anymore).

But I was just glad to avoid the fate of friends who reported infections or the horrors of torn ear lobes when their earrings would snag on some immovable piece of costuming. And then there was the friend whose dance partner, a rainbow boa constrictor, decided to take a little detour through the loop of her PIERCED earring and got stuck. She couldn’t take the earring off and had to hold the snake and earring against her head LEST HE RIP HER EARLOBE IN TWO. The more stuck he got, the more he tried to squeeze through the hoop! Meanwhile, we had to scramble around the mall where we were performing to scavenge a pair of nippers small enough to cut the loop to free him. So much for that earring, and my friend’s ear was very sore. It could have been worse. Now, if it had only been a pair of non-pierced earrings….

Yeah, I know, most women wear a wondrous range of fishhooks and leverbacks that will never grace my lobes unless I submit to the hole punch, needle or whatever skewer du jour is au current. And, let’s face it, the designs available in pierced earrings are way more plentiful (and usually more beautiful) than you’ll find among their clip-on or screw-on cousins (it seems sort of unfair). But there’s just something about putting holes in my body that bothers me. Call me a coward, but I know I’m not alone.

It used to be fairly easy to find nice-looking non-pierced earrings in stores, but this seems less the case these days (especially since May Company bit the dust). Any that I have been able to locate tend to be rather gargantuan monstrosities that seem destined to become victims of gravity. The other day I was in a Nordstrom’s and didn’t see any non-pierced at all. Curious, I asked the salesperson behind the counter if they ever got requests for clip-ons. She said that actually they did all the time, but wasn’t sure why they didn’t carry any. It seems to be easier these days to find non-pierced earrings online than in brick and mortar shops. A look around the Internet reveals more than a handful of shops that specialize in this market as well as what seems to be enough of a demand to support them. Some of these stores sell the usual types of non-pierced fare in a wide array of designs (i.e.: and while others offer less traditional solutions (check out, and

Of course, many pierced earrings can be converted onto non-pierced findings. To be honest, though, as I make earrings to go with my necklaces and bracelets, I do prefer the look of them as they dangle demurely from delicate hooks rather than from big metallic buttons (though not so much that I find myself reaching for a needle and an ice cube). Ready-made sterling or gold-filled hook earring findings are also much less expensive, and they are easy to handcraft out of wire. In contrast, aside from ear cuffs, wraps or hooks that hang from other places around the ear, non-pierced findings are rather high-tech jobs, involving small springs, magnets or screws, that would be much more difficult to make. And the price of ready-made sterling and gold-filled earring findings is stratospheric.

But earrings are becoming a new mission for me. A rediscovered passion. Sure, I’ll cheerfully offer pierced earrings. I’d be a fool not to. And I’ll try the designs out on my pierced-earred friends. I’m a believer in test driving designs before offering them for sale. But I will also offer non-pierced versions of everything (via simple conversions onto silver- or gold-plated findings, until I can figure out an alternative). It’s the only way I can personally test out (and enjoy) my own creations.  And I think it’s only fair.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I’d welcome comments on this.

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