Ear Cuffs: From Street Style to Fine Jewelry Designs

By Cynthia Sliwa — October 14, 2013

It may be time to rethink your earrings, or rather, the adornment of your ears. Not only ear lobes are receiving attention from jewelry designers – the outer edge of the ear is the focus of the latest styles of jewelry for the ears. Some designs attach to the top or side edge of the ear; others hang over and around the entire ear. The designs are sometimes seen worn on one ear, sometimes on both ears, providing even more variety. All of these designs are referred to as “ear cuffs.”

ear cuffs 093013 People top 5 trends of 2013 REV

Indeed, the September 30, 2013 issue of People declares that ear cuffs are one of the “Top 5 Trends of 2013.” The magazine’s style & beauty editor Pamela Edwards Christiani writes, “This supercool accessory mixes the bold with the beautiful. Like Miranda Kerr (in Ryan Storer) [pictured], you don’t need a pair. Wear it on one ear only! Best part: They come in a slew of styles, so whether you’re edgy or elegant, there’s a cuff for you.”

Ear cuffs are very much a fine jewelry phenomenon, not just a street trend. Writing in the September 2013 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Emily Cronin writes, “what women want from jewelry is evolving. ‘Women are trying to find a different way to wear fine jewelry, where it’s not just the statement watch, the statement bracelet, and diamond studs,” says jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher. Instead designers like Fisher, Eva Zuckerman of Eva Fehren, Ana Khouri, Irene Neuwirth, Jennifer Meyer, Hoorsenbuh’s Robert Keith, Gaia Repossi, and Anita Ko are energizing the genre with pieces that are more than future heirlooms: From ear-climbing earrings to sleek modern bangles, they are a chance to express your style every day, no matter the dress code.”

ear cuffs 0913 HB The Real Deal Cronin article Repossi cuffs REV

Cronin continues: “Why now? Though bold costume baubles and quick hits of high-street sparkle abound, the real jewelry we long for is about daily luxury, personalization, and long-term value.” Pictured is a pair of 18kt yellow gold and diamond ear cuffs from Repossi.

This style is not for everyone, of course. If you are not enamored with the shape of your ears and prefer to cover them, let this trend pass you by. There is also an inherent edginess to these designs that may not sit well in the most conservative business environments.

ear cuffs 0913 HB Jacob & Co wing black & white diamonds REV

The September 2013 issue of Harper’s Bazaar spotlights a number of fine jewelry ear cuffs, including this pair of wing-shaped earrings in black and white diamonds from Jacob & Co.

ear cuffs 0913 HB shop bazaar Annelise Michelson REV

A single ear cuff from Annelise Michelson is part of the shopBazaar.com collection featured in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar. The magazine quotes owners Sarah Easley and Beth Buccini of New York boutique Kirna Zabete: “A new season is an opportunity for a fashion reboot, and these unexpected pieces remix with older closet favorites for a fresh take. Choosing a whimsical piece also has an ‘I’m a creative original’ style that we love.”

Ear cuffs are an excellent way to achieve the edgy look of multiple piercings without the commitment (or the pain).

ear cuffs 1013 InStyle shop it accessories REV

The October 2013 issue of InStyle elaborates upon the ear cuff phenomenon:  “A surprising delicateness has appeared in this alt jewelry category, giving a once purely punk anthem a pretty new refrain.” Although the magazine puts the trend at the highest end of its “dare-o-meter,” it provides style guidance:  “Wear your cuff with minimalist looks or dressy outfits. As for lobes, keep them bare (as Emma Watson did at Cannes to rave reviews) or balance a cuff with a small stud.” Pictured are 18kt white gold and 18kt black gold ear cuffs from Repossi; a metal cuff with rose-gold tone from Nasty Gal; a bronze ear cuff from Pamela Love; a freshwater pearl and sterling silver ear cuff from Delfina Delettrez (“A cheekier approach to a string of pearls”), and a diamond and 18kt white gold ear cuff from Colette.

ear cuffs 1013 InStyle Emma Watson in Graziela Gems REV

Actress Emma Watson is pictured in the October 2013 issue of InStyle wearing a pair of sterling silver and white zircon ear cuffs by Graziela Gems. The magazine notes, “To keep the edgy dazzlers from sliding, the designer affixed a tiny cushioned clip to the top of each.”

ear cuffs 0913 C Roberto Cavalli floral cuff REV

The September 2013 issue of C California Style features a pair of ear cuffs with a traditional floral motif from Roberto Cavalli.

ear cuffs 0313 Elle Lomo cuffs w Valentino lace dress REV

Indeed, the style has been some time in the coming. Pictured in the March 2013 issue of Elle is a gold vermeil ear cuff from Lomo worn with a Valentino lace dress and Dr. Martens boots.

ear cuffs 0913 PSW Hunter Bell AMI Clubwear cuff REV

This is not to say that the look cannot be achieved at a decidedly modest price. The September 2013 issue of People Style Watch features a metal ear cuff with plastic detail from AMI Clubwear, noting that it “adds an instantly trendy touch!” The magazine quotes fashion designer Hunter Bell on “how to master the girlie-cool look” and “create a feminine-edgy mix”: “I love a spiky silver or gold ear cuff with a lacy dress—you’d naturally pick pearls, but an ear cuff is the more eye-catching choice.”

ear cuffs 1013 MC luxe for less Style Stalker x LUV AJ color REV

The October 2013 issue of Marie Claire pictures a bright blue ear cuff from Style Stalker x LUV AJ along with a cord bracelet from Zales and a colorful Swatch wristwatch in a feature “Luxe for Less” focusing on video game arcade prints and futuristic extras.

ear cuffs H&M ad 0913 Vogue REV

For under six dollars, here’s a spiky metal ear cuff pictured in an ad from H&M that appeared in the September 2013 issue of Vogue.

This is as style trend available at all price points, and one likely to have staying power into the future.

In a three-page article in the September 2013 issue of Image magazine of the Los Angeles Times, “Haute and Heavy: Rebellion and femininity play nice in new heavy-metal pieces,” Ingrid Schmidt writes: “Who says ear cuffs, knuckle rings, chunky chains and spikes are solely the armor of street-storming teens? Now showing up in luxurious, feminine forms–often encrusted with a heavy dose of diamonds–these powerful new pieces are also dangerously chic.” The Mise en Dior stud “tribal earring” and Repossi’s diamond-embellished ear cuff, notes Schmidt, “could prompt even the most conservative ladies to indulge in a hint of rebellion.”

ear cuffs 0913 Image LA Times p 3 of 3 w Repossi cuff Dior tribal earring Cartier Juste un Clou

The September 2013 issue of Image spotlights a selection of editorial favorites in edgy jewelry:  a Repossi “Berbere” ear cuff of 18kt yellow gold and diamonds; Tom Binns’ “Pearls in Peril” safety pin earrings; Ana Khouri’s “Stern” bracelet of 18kt rose gold and white diamonds; Cartier’s “Juste un Clou” ring; Versace nail earrings; an ear cuff of 14kt gold and diamonds from Jill Hoffmeister; and a “Mise in Dior” pearl tribal earring.

Take note:  The revolution in jewelry design is bringing exciting new options to the world of fine jewelry.  


Price Check:

  • AMI Clubwear:  metal ear cuff with plastic detail, $10
  • Ana Khouri:  “Stern” hand bracelet of 18kt rose gold and 1.5 carats pave white diamonds, $21,050
  • Annelise Michelson:  gold-plated brass ear cuff, $464
  • Cartier:  “Juste un Clou” ring of 18kt gold and diamonds, $3,850
  • Colette:  diamond and 18kt white gold ear cuff, $8,275
  • Delfina Delettrez:  freshwater pearls and sterling silver ear cuff, $687
  • Dior:  “Mise en Dior” tribal earring of glass pearls, price upon request
  • Graziela Gems:  sterling silver and white zircon ear cuffs, $290/pair
  • H&M:  metal ear cuff, $5.95
  • Jacob & Co.:  “Wing Clip-On Earrings” of palladium with 314 black diamonds and 86 white diamonds, price upon request
  • Jill Hoffmeister:  ear cuff of 14kt gold and diamonds, $2,800
  • Lomo:  gold vermeil ear cuff, $360
  • Nasty Gal:  rose-gold tone metal ear cuff, $18
  • Pamela Love:  bronze ear cuff, $138
  • Repossi:  18kt white gold earrings, $5,020; 18kt black gold earrings, $5,020; “Berbere” 18kt yellow gold and diamond earrings, price upon request
  • Roberto Cavalli:  floral motif ear cuffs, $1,020
  • Ryan Storer:  silver-plated ear cuff with clear Swarovski crystals, sold with a single marquise-shaped stud earring, $260
  • Style Stalker x LUV AJ:  ear cuff, $46.99
  • Swatch:  wristwatch, details not provided
  • Tom Binns:  “Pearls in Peril” safety in earrings of gold-plated brass with “crystal pearls” and crystals, $150
  • Versace:  nail earrings, prices upon request
  • Zales:  cord bracelet, $39

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