The evolution of ear wear

Ear cuffs are one of the most creative ways of adorning your ear, but how do they work, are they comfortable and should you wear one or two?

Cartier Magicien Quetzal high jewellery ear cuffs

One of the most exciting trends shaking up fine jewellery is the evolution of ear wear. No longer restricted to drops or studs, jewellery designers have been devising increasingly creative ways to adorn the ear, including the most lavish of designs – the ear cuff.

While these daring, red carpet-ready designs are undeniably appealing, they do throw up a few questions. Can I wear them in the daytime? Are they comfortable? How secure are they? The latter question being of particular importance if you are considering a luxury ear cuff, such as the exclusive black lacquer and diamond Quetzal ear cuffs from Cartier's Magicien collection, or the delightfully pink sapphire, tourmaline and diamond ear cuff, below, from Piaget’s Sunny Side of Life - both released this year.

If you are drawn to ear cuffs, but are still a little unsure, read on for the answers to some of the most common ear cuff conundrums. 

Sunny Side of Life sapphire, tourmaline and diamond ear cuff and stud
This pink sapphire, tourmaline and diamond ear cuff from Piaget's Sunny Side of Life collection is sold with a matching stud (£193,000).

How do ear cuffs work?

There are many different styles of ear cuff. Some hook over the top of the ear, using its natural curve. Most, however, have a fastening at the lobe for extra security that holds it in position in the same way as a traditional earring. Some may also have additional clips, hidden from view when worn, to guide the ear cuff up the ear. Others use slide-style clips that allow you to fasten the ear cuff at a number of different positions – this works especially well with smaller cuffs – and some will even hook into the inside of the ear itself, creating a real talking point.

Magicien Quetzal diamond ear cuffs
Quetzal white gold, diamond and black lacquer high jewellery ear cuffs from Cartier's Magicien collection (£293,000).

Are ear cuffs comfortable?

This element very much depends on the cuff itself. Designs with a post and a hook are indeed comfortable, although you need to take note of how weighty the cuff is as a heavier design can become uncomfortable over a long period of time. Slides are usually comfortable, but can be less secure than those with clips and posts. The real potential for discomfort lies in designs with clips that are too strong, although there are ways round this, such as creating silhouette clip designs that allow skin to pass through the clip to relieve the pressure, or clips with silicon elements to soften the squeeze.

Eyes ear cuff and earring with precious gemstones
One half ear cuff, one half earring, by Lydia Courteille. The iris of the eyes is crafted from from green agate and the whites filled in with white diamonds with a facted rock crystal tear descends from the cuff (€8,400).

One ear cuff or two?

Some brands sell ear cuffs individually, others as pairs; this should guide you on how the designer envisioned the look working. When buying a single cuff, designs that follow the curve of the ear will be designed specifically to fit either the left or right ear. At Greek goldsmith Minas, friends will often club together to buy a pair, each taking one home – a savvy approach, and the ear cuff equivalent of a breakable-heart friendship pendant. Even if you buy ear cuffs as a pair, you can mix it up by wearing one for a low-key look during the day and create a more dramatic effect for the evening with both. A popular trend is to pair one ear cuff with an understated stud.

Gold ear cuffs
These solid gold ear cuffs by Minas hook over the ears and are often bought by friends who will take home one cuff each (£1,850).

As for how to incorporate them into your wardrobe, Erin Morris of David Morris offers some advice on how to wear the cuffs, below, from the luxury jewellery house’s Pearl Rose collection: “The cuffs would work with some Amanda Wakeley butter-soft leather trousers, Alaïa heels and a chunky sweater. Or add an edge to a girlie summer frock and ballet flats. But if you’re lucky enough to have one, wear whatever you want!”

Pearl Rose Akoya pearl ear cuffs
David Morris Akoya pearl, diamond and white gold ear cuffs from the Pearl Rose collection (£11,900).

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