What Are French Clip Earrings?

French clips provide security for big earrings, like these worn by Alice Eve.

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

They’re big, they’re bold, they’re beautiful and they are so in fashion! You spent a lot of money for these fabulous and flirty ear bobs, but their weight makes them tilt forward and threaten to fall out of your ears. Or, maybe you don’t have pierced ears and you long to wear these must-have accessories, but that kind of weight hanging from those torture-chamberesque clips is just out of the question. French clips to the rescue! In styles for both pierced and nonpierced ears, French clip -- also called omega-style -- earrings distribute weight more evenly over your lobe and hold on securely to ensure that you don’t fling your bling on the dance floor.

Nonpierced

If you have nonpierced ears, you face the dilemma of choosing between the agony of tight clasps that pinch your ears and the heartbreak of losing a favorite earring because the clasp wasn’t tight enough. French clips for nonpierced ears are a clever blend of the vintage screw-back earrings (descendants of the thumb screw) and hinged clips. If you’ve ever worn screw-back earrings, you know that the tiny metal “pad” that makes contact with the back of your lobe is too small to distribute the weight of a heavy earring, so you end up tightening it to the point that you cut off your blood circulation and form deep dents in your poor lobes. French clip earrings use the wider surface of a hinged clip and combine it with a screw that lets you adjust the degree of tension on your ear.

Pierced

Pierced-earring wearers well know the annoyance of truly fabulous ear bling that looks great in the store, but drags your lobe down, flops outward and elongates your piercing because of the weight. Heavy-duty earrings also can pull loose from their backings as they tilt. Enter French clips for pierced ears. A hinged security loop in a shape that resembles the Greek letter omega (hence the alternate name for this technology) fits over a post and secures it to the back of your ear and, at the same time, distributes the weight more evenly. You simply open the omega, insert the post through your piercing and close the clasp against the back of your ear.

Pricing

If you’re eager to try this clever technology, make sure you have a little wiggle room in your credit line. French clips tend to appear on earrings of higher quality and price. The mechanism itself is more costly to manufacture and its primary purpose is to help you hold onto your purchase, so it is associated with more costly jewels. Prices for both pierced and nonpierced French clip ear adornments generally start around $80 and run into the thousands of dollars when semiprecious or precious gemstones and metals are involved.

Avoiding Irritation

Any metal that comes in contact with your ear, whether running through a piercing or simply clipped onto your lobe, can cause irritation. If you have sensitive skin, choose your metals carefully. Earrings with findings of gold, platinum and stainless steel, especially the surgical grade, are kind to your skin and less likely to cause a reaction. Avoid nickel or cobalt in any portion of the jewelry that comes in direct contact with your skin because these metals are more likely to cause an allergic reaction.

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