I got my ears pierced shortly after my eighth birthday. It was one of the first times I remember having to face the very adult trade-off of short-term discomfort with getting something I really wanted, which was the small, yet significant sign that I was grown up and elegant. Little did I know I was joining a whole sub-culture of people for whom terms like “stud”; “fishhook”; and “barbell” have meanings related to fashion; and for whom the idea of “silicone coated earring backs,” which I only just discovered, inspire internal “ahhhs” of relief and comfort.
While being a part of this culture has been worth it, earrings pose some challenges. In my experience, there are two main ones. First, there’s the risk of losing the back to your stud earring (and, less seriously, to your dangly earring). In elementary school, the folk wisdom was that if you lost the back to your earring, you could use cut-off pencil eraser to get through the rest of the day still bejeweled. It didn’t occur to me that you can buy replacement backs of all types - from simple metal to rubberized to gold plated; speciality backs for heavy earrings, high value jewelry (the backs screw on!).
Secondly, there’s the problem of backs poking your neck. This effect was particularly pronounced in my first pair of earrings. Because the earrings themselves were used to pierce my ears, the backs were sharp. I spent the six weeks of recovery, having to wearing them all the time, in mild fear of being impaled in my sleep. Even now, I consider carefully which earrings to wear on a long flight, when awkwardly positioned napping is inevitable, and the last thing I need is a consistent pinpoint to my jawline.
I don’t usually follow breakthroughs in earring technology, but I’m serious about these silicone covered earring backs being revolutionary for earring wearers of all ages. I think they would truly address both of the major problems with earrings I have named - and without breaking the bank or requiring a combination padlock to keep your earrings on. While they’re similar to other back-up metal backs (in sterling silver - the holy grail of hypoallergenic earring posts); the silicone coating, which is more like a dome over the metal back, is the game changer.
With the smooth edges of the silicone you’re less likely to catch your back on a sweater, jacket, or your dancing arm and send it rocketing across the room like a meteor, never to be seen again. So, if worn by default, these backs could actually keep you from losing the back of your earring in the first place. Also, the silicone covering softens the pokiness of the back from blunt needle to … small, soft bean, perhaps. The “small” part is important. Other earring backs designed for more security and comfort are constructed with a large disk that takes up the whole back of your earlobe, often larger than the decorative side of the earring. These silicone ones keep the profile of a small, metal back.
If you’re ever looking for a little gift idea - to the eight year old who just got her ears pierced, or to the grown-up who’s always looking for technology that marginally increases her quality of life, I recommend keeping these silicone coated earring backs in mind. It’s not flashy, but it’s sometimes the little things that are the best gifts.