Smith & Tailor

The Stud Earring Dilemma

Kathryn Dieroff
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There is nothing more classic and versatile that a pair of diamond studs. Whether they are traditional four claw, elegant six claw, unique three claw design, or a modern bezel, there is a diamond stud earring to suit everyone. They go from office, to gym, to gala with ease. There is nothing that doesn’t go with a clean bright pair of diamond studs. So what’s the dilemma? Over the years working with clients sourcing stones for stud earrings, the dilemma is, what size do you choose, and do you choose quality over size? Most people who are ready to shop for their staple diamond stud earring have a size in mind. Perhaps they’ve tried something on that they like, maybe they have a pair that are deemed ‘too small’, maybe the size of the stone in an engagement ring is acting as a reference point. What can end up being the challenge is finding the right size within the budget. When you are buying a pair of studs, you are buying two stones, and therefore, they are twice the price. Well, not always, but they are often more expensive than people anticipate for their size goal. The best way to get stones in the right size is to start to lower the quality, but is this the right choice?

Here are five tips for buying stud earrings and being thrilled with the result and not shocked at the price. Use these tips to get the best value for your money.

  1. Consider second best. The highest quality stones may not always be necessary. When looking for an engagement ring diamond, you want to get the very best stone you can afford. Often clients are looking for the top grades in colour, clarity, and cut, which is a good choice for your ring. Earrings, on the other hand, can handle a bit of imperfection. Often I1 clarity stones are passed over for engagement rings because you can see the natural inclusions with the naked eye. In earrings, being able to see inclusions is much less important. Most people will not have such up close scrutiny of their ears, and more importantly, when they’re on, you won’t have a chance to be looking too closely either. It is often ok to even go to a good I2 stone in an earring. It is likely not noticeable on the ear and it will save a bunch on the price of the stones. The same goes for colour. Top colour is not necessary, and although you want a good match, close might be good enough since the stones are on either side of your head.
  2. Make it a halo. A great option for stud earrings is to do a cluster or halo setting. You can start out with smaller centre stones, which can help with the budget, but still achieve a nice large look on the earlobe. This definitely is not a cheapest option, but if you want to go big and showy, this is definitely the more budget conscious option than a large carat sized stone. The halo is a very contemporary look and translates well into stud earrings.
  3. Go for colour. Diamond isn’t the only option for studs. There are a wide variety of gems of any colour to choose from. If you chose colour, you may not get something that you can wear everyday, and it may not have the same sparkle as a diamond, however, there are some ways to make coloured stone studs your signature look. For example, if you have blue eyes, bring them out with sapphires, aquamarines, or blue topaz. If you are the kind of girl that has the perfect red heels that you wear with everything, perhaps you could use a ruby, red spinel, or pair of garnet studs to match. Resist the temptation to go with your birthstone, or the colour of the moment. It is less likely that these earrings will become your ‘go to’ pair for years to come. The key to getting studs with coloured stones that you will love day after to day is to pick a colour that matches you.
  4. Fake it ‘til you make it. Here’s a little secret – you don’t need to get diamonds at all. Swarovski cut crystals have the same sparkle and brilliance as diamonds and no one ever has to know except you. The reason you don’t see more of these kinds of stones in rings is that Swarovskis, though stunning beautiful, are a bit brittle, and not as hard as diamonds, so they can’t stand the wear and tear of being set into a ring. There is very little damage to stones on earrings, so the hardness is not a factor. The key is to get a pair of genuine Swarovski cut that is set in a good quality gold setting. This way they will not appear cheap, and the plating won’t wear off after a short time and cause your ears to go green. Because Swarovski crystals are very reasonably priced, you can choose a whopping size way beyond what you could afford in genuine stones. Alternately, you could get a more conservative size and keep people guessing!
  5. White settings make the stones appear larger. When clients view loose stones, they are often surprised by how much larger the stones look once they are in settings. Certain settings are designed to increase the appearance of size of a stone. As a general rule, any white setting will help to make the stone look larger. To maximize the effect, go with a full bezel around the stone. The only exception may be if you do decide to go with a lower colour grade on your stone to save money, for example in the K, L and below range, you will benefit from choosing a yellow setting instead. The white metal could show the slight tint of colour in your diamond that the yellow metal may not.

Some other small notes on stud earrings

Stud earrings are designed for everyday wear, so it’s easy to put them in and leave them in. Keep in mind to give them a good cleaning from time to time for them to look their best. You can clean your earrings the same way you clean your ring. Use some hot water, Mr. Clean, and an old toothbrush and give them a good scrub. Or you can take them to your local jeweler and have them pop your earrings into their ultrasonic cleaner. They should do this for you free of charge.

What about threaded posts? So you’ve invested a good amount of money in your earrings and you don’t want to lose them. You definitely want the most secure clasp. Many people choose a threaded post (the whole post is like a bolt and the backing is a nut) where you need to twist and twist and twist the nut on. A lot of people find the threaded post style earring very difficult to put on. The post is often a bit thicker, so can be uncomfortable to put in, and you need to turn a lot of times to close them. There is nothing preventing the nut from unthreading over time and falling off. You need to be mindful of the back and make sure they are threaded all the way on. The other potential drawback is that the thread can strip over time. Once the thread is gone, the backing provides no protection to keep the backing on. My recommendation is to go with a standard post and a butterfly style back. You can get larger butterflies that are easier to handle if you find the small ones tricky, and if they loosen over time, they can be manually tightened again.

Go as big as you can afford in your budget. Use these tips to find the stone and style to suit your life. Put them on, and you never have to take them off.