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Drops of drama: earrings are so hot right now

It has been a reliable jewellery category for years but GEORGIA WESTGARTH discovers why earrings of all styles and dimensions are currently experiencing a fashion moment.

The earring category is a staple of any jewellery store but taking stock of what designs will sell best – and at what times – can be difficult.

Earrings have been making a major impact on international catwalks and mainstream fashion editorials in the past few seasons so predicting current trends is especially important.

Maia Adams is head of global research at UK-based Adorn Insight, an agency that supplies market intelligence to the international jewellery industry. Adams says earrings are certainly having “a moment”.

“At Adorn Insight one of the many metrics we use to confirm the emergence of trends is data we glean from analysing catwalk data,” she explains. “In a world where information moves at the speed of lightning, catwalk jewellery trends hit the consumer radar almost immediately and have a marked impact on fine jewellery too.

“For spring/summer 2016, we crunched data from 2,043 unique jewellery pieces on the catwalks – Milan, Paris, New York and London – and were able to see that earrings jumped to the top spot at 27 per cent of the overall mix. In spring/summer 2015 they came in at second place, after neckwear.”

With this in mind, Jeweller set out to gain a sense of what’s hot in the local market and where the earring movement might pounce next so that jewellery retailers can ensure they gain their fair share of sales.

In addition to the ear-bling rebirth through statement drops, double-pearl stud earrings and ear cuffs, a love of the simplistic has emerged in the form of studs and mix-and-match varieties.

Kat Gee, creative director of Kagi, says rose gold is still a resilient player in the earring market.

“Rose gold continues to be a strong finish for us and we are further extending our offering over the coming seasons,” she states.

Mark McAskill
Mark McAskill

Gee believes flexibility is one reason for the earring category snagging attention, citing popular designs in Kagi’s Mix-and-Match line as an example. The concept involves interchangeable charms that can be attached to hoop earrings.

“We are continuing to see our mix-and-match earrings trending; women love the added versatility,” she explains, “and we keep selling out of our huggies as soon as they hit our retailers’ shelves.”

To capitalise on what Gee calls an “ongoing trend”, Kagi will release more Mix-and-Match styles in time for the summer season.

Another earring trend highlighted by Gee is the incorporation of Murano glass: “We are seeing a resurrection of ‘Murano-esque’ gemstones this season in ocean blue and new for summer in emerald green.”

Managing director of Stones and Silver, Cheryle Roberts, says it’s all about the stud. “Stud earrings are currently trending, including gemstones, plain silver, rose gold-plated and silver and rose gold combinations,” she states, noting shapes like triangles and circles are in demand, as are champagne-coloured cubic zirconia studs in rose gold.

“The Euro Double Ball stud earrings are continuing to trend, despite now being around for quite some time,” Roberts adds.

Roberts and Gee both believe sturdy studs are popular because they are affordable and easy to wear. For Susannah Fairley, designer and director of eponymous fashion jewellery business Fairley, anything big and bold is on trend.

“The statement earring is still a really strong style for us; anything large in a hammered or brushed finish with interest that can make an outfit,” she says.

Fairley, whose clientele includes the likes of Megan Gale, Olivia Wilde and Selena Gomez, states that ear cuffs, ear jackets and ear climbers are having a moment but that’s not to say minimalistic styles are being ignored. She believes the current fashion height of earrings is thanks to the layering trend synonymous with rings.

Fabuleux Vous
Fabuleux Vous

“People have been layering rings, necklaces and bangles and now earrings,” Fairley comments, adding, “People are getting multiple holes in their ears so they can wear an assortment of delicate earrings, mixing and matching styles depending on their outfit or mood.”

Gerrim International managing director Gerri Maunder has a slightly different view on the scope of the earring trend, highlighting a resurgence of all things old.

“Currently we are finding there is a return to the Art Deco and Victorian periods – our cameo and onyx earrings have been setting the benchmark in style,” she explains. “I believe that ‘everything old is new again’ is really relevant as the younger generations were not exposed to these beautiful products and, hence, it’s all new to them.”

According to Paul Phillips, Australasian sales manager at Mark McAskill, drop earrings are having their moment, as are elongated drop huggies.

“The trends are born out of women wanting to wear substantial, statement-sized earrings in earthy, coloured metals set with turquoise, black onyx and pearls,” he says, adding, “The popularity of rose gold has allowed manufacturers the ability to introduce gemstones such as morganite and rose quartz.”

Who’s buying what

Helen Thompson-Carter, managing director at Fabuleux Vous, says she likes to think earring trends are classified according to wearers. She outlines four buyer categories: Sophisticated classic – concerned about quality of metal and gemstones; Statement maker – isn’t necessarily troubled by metal type as the ‘look’ and how that works with hair and outfit is everything; Simplistic – will more than likely wear the same pair of studs or basic hook earrings every day; and Who

I am – likes to have multiple earrings that line the ear, in addition to often having piercings on other areas of the body, generally in sterling silver.

Thompson-Carter says women aged between 30 and 50 typically own earrings in styles they like rather than brands. She also says those over 50 are “free to be individuals but more likely to have a tight collection of things they love”, while consumers under 25 are not likely to be wearing sophisticated statement pieces made from gold or precious gemstones and will follow trends released by brands.

Fairley points to studs as popular choices for the younger customer and bold earrings with gemstones for the 30-to-60 age bracket.

Stones & Silver
Stones & Silver

“Our ear climbers have been popular with the 20-to-40 age bracket,” she says.

“I think the finer earring trend is ageless; women aged between 30 and 60 are definitely more confident to mix this back with larger statement pieces,” she states but warns, “People are also very conscious of the materials used, particularly for earrings as some have allergies.”

Roberts and Gee believe affordability for on-trend jewellery is key.

According to Gee, studs are a hot ticket item for the younger demographic, while the supplier’s Mix-and-Match earrings are popular for customers aged between 45 and 65.

“After many requests from our consumers, we have added a small range of clip-on earrings to appeal to the customers who want the Kagi look but don’t have their ears pierced (usually older women),” she adds.

Will the earring buzz fizzle out?

According to Fairley, the spotlight shining on earrings is only just getting started.

“I think that earrings are an easy go-to for accessorising an outfit and have been the biggest category at Fairley for the last two seasons. We have sold out of our core ear climbers and studs several times this season,” she says.

“Earrings are certainly having their moment in the sun and, as a key fashion accessory, they are here to stay. I would say that the designs will get more interesting – chains, gemstones and lobe earrings seem to be ‘a thing’ although this could be a little directional for some.”

Roberts believes the uptake on earrings is due to their affordability, “especially for gift giving”.

Gerrim International
Gerrim International
Stones & Silver
Stones & Silver

“I think you will see a lot more variations coming out in quality Euro Double Ball studs, with exciting combinations between back and front, including beautiful gemstones. Expanding on this, I think there will be great new designs in front and back earrings (where both the front and back of the earring is decorative).”

It appears that no matter the age or personal taste of a customer, there’s an earring trend that can be adapted. Retailers best strike while ear bling is hot.


Raising the fashion stakes

In order to obtain further insight into earring developments, Jeweller speaks with two international jewellery and accessory trend experts. Here is what they have to say.

Maia Adams

Head of global research at Adorn Insight, which supplies market intelligence to the jewellery industry

Jeweller: Why are earrings having ‘a moment’ right now?

Adams: Hair is a big influencer. We are seeing a real diversity of strong haircuts coming through on the catwalks – buzz cuts (as seen at Gucci) and boyish crops and ponytails (Balmain and Chanel) – and in the real world too. What better way to accentuate a great cut than with a fab earring? The previously-edgy idea of multiple piercings as a means of self-expression has now also gone mainstream. From studs and charms to dainty hoops and even slimline chains, the consumer is telling a story through her choice of ear decoration. We are even seeing the emergence of ‘celebrity’ ear piercers.

Jeweller: What earrings are currently trending?

Adams: Right now, dangles are a great silhouette choice for consumers wanting to make a statement. When it comes to multiple piercings, the rule is to keep things dainty and eclectic so that the end result strikes the right balance between edgy and chic. In terms of styling, regular sets are the most obvious/popular choice but if people feel like mixing things up, mismatched pairs, solo earrings and asymmetry are a great way to show personality.

Ella Hudson

Senior editor of accessories and footwear at WGSN, a global trend forecasting service

Jeweller: What earrings are currently trending?

Hudson: Aside from the ongoing trend for multiple piercings that sparked the surge in sales of studs and stud sets, the major trend happening right now for the earring category is the resurgence of hoops. It started back in 2015 with the classic hoop and it has been evolving ever since. Now we are seeing a whole range of new iterations of the hoop earring with a particular emphasis on loose, fluid silhouettes and designs that incorporate hanging charms or pendants. In terms of colour and materials, gold-toned metals continue to drive the earring category and the trend for fine pavé settings shows no signs of slowing.

Jeweller: What’s next for earrings?

Hudson: In the mid to near-term future, the approach to how the ear is adorned will continue to evolve. Gaia Repossi and Ara Vartanian are both masters of modern ear adornment and their respective ‘Agrafe’ and ‘hook’ designs will surely play a key role in shaping the future of the earring category. In addition to these new silhouettes, we are seeing a real emphasis on adaptable designs that can be worn in a multitude of ways. This is a trend that not only appeals to the consumer trend for personalised items but also adds value as wearers are essentially getting two or even three items for the price of one.


Georgia Westgarth


Having sold jewellery for four years, sales assistant turned journalist, Georgia Westgarth has a strong understanding of the industry and customer needs. She is a freelance contributor for Jeweller with a particular interest in jewellery brands and trends.


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