© Written by Rachael Taylor for Jewellery Net Asia
In fashion – and make no mistake, jewellery design lies within this industry – we are always seeking ways to create something new, something fresh. A penchant for maximalism will lead into a season of minimalism; a vogue for vintage will be reprimanded into irrelevance with a smack of super modernism. Because you see, sometimes the easiest way to quench this thirst for newness is to turn the exiting trend on its head, which leads me to one of the most interesting jewellery styles making noise right now: earrings with big backs.
Traditionally the focus of an earring is all there up front: chandeliers, outward-projecting hoops, twinkling studs, even ear cuffs. But what is so easy to forget is that the post of an earring goes two ways, providing equal opportunity for design at each end.
British jeweller Shaun Leane has long been making use of the much-ignored rear view of earrings. One of his most iconic designs is the Signature Tusk earring, which uses a much longer section of metal at the back, which doubles as the fastener, to give the appearance that the wearer has a caveman-esque tusk hooked through the ear.
This classic collection has been hugely popular, paving the way for similar designs, and has evolved in recent years with diamonds set into the back section of the tusks, making their rear even more eye-catching.
THE REVERSE DROP
Perhaps the most popular way of interpreting this trend at the moment is to use a stud – quite often a pearl – in the traditional position in the centre of the lobe, but contrast it with a much larger and more flamboyant design dropping down from behind the ear.
Some designers are now creating feature earring backs that can be attached to existing earrings, allowing wearers to update their jewellery boxes instantly. Annoushka has created just such a product, the Frost earring back in 14ct yellow gold with a single Keshi pearl designed to hang below the lobe, and pop’s princess provocateur Rihanna has been snapped wearing one.
Another way to work this trend without adding too much length to the design is the ear jacket, perfect for those who want to buy into this trend but prefer studs. This quirkily named design again uses a stud for the forward-facing section that fastens into a metal plate decorated with multiple jewels along its lower edge. When worn, the earring looks like one central stud in the lobe with a line of gems touching the bottom edge of the ear.
This interpretation can give lots of options for designs, and is a great way to display diamonds or coloured gemstones. Though the earring may look chunky off the ear, when worn it creates a delicate, precious effect. French designer Yvonne Léon and American jeweller Jemma Wynne have some great examples of this technique.
One interesting note with regards to both ear jackets and reverse drop earrings is that they are very often sold singularly, which taps into a further trend for asymmetrical earrings.
This trend may certainly be backwards, but it’s fun and gently confrontational – guaranteed to start a conversation. And, after all, isn’t that what great jewellery should always do?
This article was originally published on Jewellery Net Asia on 27.01.15. I write a weekly column for this website about global jewellery trends.