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Earring Evolution | Men's Earrings

Styles constantly change, and fortunately for us men, earrings have crossed the gender barrier, and are both acceptable and in style today. Although male ear piercing has been a part of some cultures and religions for years, it’s only been about the past forty to fifty years that style reasons alone have given way to men’s earrings in the US.

Gone are the days when the ear pierced distinguished your sexuality; insinuating only gays wore an earring in the right ear.  Today, not only is either ear acceptable for all to pierce, but many men have chosen to pierce both with either one or multiple holes.  The truth is there are no longer any rules governing men’s earring use, so women are not the only ones free to express themselves.

Men’s earrings are made from a vast assortment of materials: metals, precious stones, plastics, wood, glass, beads and even bone.  Gold, silver, platinum, titanium and stainless are the most popular metals; while gemstones, especially diamonds, are very fashionable and timeless.

Earrings come in even more styles than mediums, yielding to none; promoting something for everyone.  The following is a list of the different styles or categories of men’s earrings:

  • Hoops – The original men’s earring, hoops are semicircles of metal, connected to a wire that goes through the earlobe and fastens, securing it in place.  Most variety’s are plain metal, but are available with diamonds and gemstones.  Dangles can be added for additional style.  Hoops are worn in lobes and other parts of the external ear, known as cartilage piercings.
  • Studs – Classic, with a straight post, studs come in an assortment of types and sizes; from elegant diamonds and gemstones, to plain metal and decorative micro pave settings.  This style can be worn most places, and is the recommended type for the professional arena.  Studs can be worn in either one or both ears, and typically have a piece of metal that secures the earring from the backside of the earlobe.  Often, multiple studs are worn in the earlobe or along the edge of the external part of the ear.
  • Flesh Tunnels – Tunnels are earrings that go through the earlobe, like a tunnel, and come in various widths.  Hollow in the middle, they stretch the hole of the lobe; requiring gradual widening through graduated sizes.  Other names for flesh tunnels are: earlet, expander, spool, gauge, eyelet and bullet holes.
  • Plugs – These are a type of large diameter, solid jewelry used for stretched piercings.  They are also used to plug tunnel holes.
  • Barbells – There are various styles of barbells: straight, curved, spiral, circular, etc., all having a double end in common, and made of any material suitable for piercings.  Often, barbells are used in cartilage piercings.
  • Spikes – These earrings can be categorized with studs; however the backs are different, resembling spikes.
  • Ear Cuffs – These are an accessory or earring that don’t go into the ear, but instead clamp onto the ear.  Typically a curved band of metal, but sometimes plastic, it is pressed snuggly against the ear and worn on any part of the ear. No piercing is required, and they have the benefit of being easily removed when necessary.
  • Non-Pierced Earrings – These include clip-ons, magnetic, spring hoop, ear screws, ear hook and stick-ons.  These earrings are a viable substitute for pierced earrings; allowing earrings to be worn without actually piercing the ear.


There are countless styles of men’s earrings, and although all are acceptable, discretion needs to be used when wearing them, since the reality is not everyone is on board and tolerant of men’s piercings.  The workplace is often an environment that may have dress codes or expectations of men’s jewelry.  Normally, small, conservative earrings are best to wear in a professional setting, especially when going on a job interview.  However, there are many workplaces that have no guidelines and permit even the wildest ear plugs.

More than ever, men are wearing earrings because they’re fashionable and trendy.  Many are wearing them to make a personal statement.  Whatever your reason, indulge yourself by owning multiple earrings to mix and match with your various outfits.  They’re a great accessory, but like all others, should be worn tastefully to compliment your clothing, not be a focal point.

by Aaron Marino

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