Jewelry Findings: Choosing the Type of Ear Wires to Make Earrings | French Wires, Lever Back

by lakeerieartists

Deciding which ear wires to use for an earring design is not quite as simple as you might think, and jewelry artists have preferences as to which style of ear wire they will use.

If you make earrings either as a hobby or as a professional jewelry artist, you are well familiar with the need for the right ear wires (also called earring hooks) for earrings. Deciding which ear wires to use for an earring design is not quite as simple as you might think, and jewelry artists have preferences as to which style of ear wire they will use depending on several criteria.

I have made jewelry first as a hobby, then as a professional artist for almost 20 years, and tried pretty much every style ear wire that is available. I know several artists that make their own ear wires, and that can be done if you if want to spend the time making them. I prefer to buy ear wires, and this article is a comparison both of styles and effectiveness of the different ear wires that you can buy.

Choosing the Right Ear Wires for Your Jewelry Design

When I make earrings to sell, I prefer to use lever back ear wires, because they are more sturdy and make it much harder for people to loose earrings.  They do cost a bit more than the french wires, which is why many artists do not use them.

Ear Wires Add Function and Style

kidney shape ear wiresAs you can see by the picture of the kidney shaped ear wires to the left, ear wires can be both functional and stylistic.  This pair of ear wires create a much longer line to an earring and work well with a very small earring drop like a pearl or Swarovski crystal drop.  They are very beautiful, but sometimes they slide around so you need to make sure that the earring has enough weight so that the wire will stay in place.

French Ear Wires

French ear wires are the most common style of ear wire.  These look like an oval shaped hook with a long straight back.  The ear wires can be made of any kind of wire, but I do not recommend any coated wires for ear wires unless you are using vermeil or gold filled wires.  The reason for this is the moisture in the skin eventually will rub off any coating on a wire, and many people are allergic or sensitive to the coatings or the wire underneath.

French wires come in several styles, and if you use them, the more secure styles have the wire that goes behind the ear at least as long as the ear itself.  This prevents them from falling out too readily.  You can buy plastic ends for the ear wires to keep them on more securely.

Silver French Ear Wires

Beadalon French Wire 0.7mm .925 Sterling Silver, 12-Inch

French Wire, also known as 'Gimp' and 'Bullion,' is used to cover and protect bead cord from friction and breakage at the clasp area. By covering the ends of the bead cord, Fren...

Only $11.69

Lever Back Ear Wires

Lever backs are my personal favorite ear wires to use, but they are a bit more expensive than the French wires.  Lever backs are essentially a short French wire with a back that closes on a very small spring, making the back part act like a lever.  They are easy to put on your ear, and they make it extremely difficult to lose your earring.  I am terrible about losing earrings, and in the last 20 years, I have only lost one lever back earring.

However, if someone pulls hard on the earring like an infant, they will come out readily, so that your ear will not get torn.  Lever backs are comfortable in your ear, and come in several styles, although I use the plain ones.

Kidney Ear Wires and Other Less Common Styles

One of my problems with many of the new ear wire styles that come out is that they often look really cool, but don't balance well or stay in the ear well. Earrings should move readily when you move, so that it is very important that the earrings do not fall out when you wear them.

However, if you want to add some cool style to your earring designs, there are some other ear wire choices. One of them that I like is the round ear wire or the shepherd's crook style. It is really a round French wire, and looks really nice on the ear.

Another nice ear wire style is the kidney shaped long ear wire. These hook in the back to themselves so that the wearer will not lose the earring, and are very elegant looking. If you make your own ear wires, you can experiment with lots of styles.

When I researched this article, I was actually surprised at the depth of inventory that Amazon had for ear wires. They actually have a very nice selection at excellent prices. And you can buy just one pair of most styles to try them out.

Most ear wire styles are available in gold, gold filled, sterling silver, sterling silver plate, argentium silver, copper, brass, and base metal. Base metal is anything that isn't precious metal. Silver, and silver plate is the most used by artists due to price, and availability.

Be Aware of Metal Allergies

It seems like more and more people are allergic to things these days, and that includes metal allergies.  Usually what people are allergic to in metal is nickel, and that is in all base metals.  The majority of people can wear sterling silver and gold, although there are some people that cannot wear silver either, and can only wear gold.

Do not make light of people's allergies, but take them seriously, because you never know how allergic they really are.  More and more companies are making sterling plated jewelry without nickel to allow more people to wear their earrings, and you can find some ear wires without nickel as well.

Whether you are a jewelry designer, or just a person looking for the right chain to hang a favored pendant, choosing the right chain can make your necklace stunning, or just so-so.
As a jewelry artist, I can tell you that having the right pliers when designing and creating jewelry is crucial.
Pearls have a timeless, classic quality, and beauty that cannot be matched by any other jewelry component, stone, glass, or metal.
Updated: 10/07/2014, lakeerieartists
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