Let’s say you and a friend are at the mall (remember malls?). You stroll into a boutique—masks on—and she beelines for the jewelry section, where she quickly picks up two pairs of super cute earrings and decides she’s going to treat herself. You think, I should grab a few pairs, too. But oh wait, you have highly sensitive ears that react to what seems like every pair of hoops, studs or huggies. Ughhhh. Luckily, there are a ton of suitable options for those of us who can’t just buy earrings made of any old metal. Here are nine of the best earrings for sensitive ears, plus a handy guide to figuring out if that pair you’re lusting over will do you dirty.
The 25 Best Earrings for Sensitive Ears, Starting at Just $38
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Why are my ears sensitive to some earrings?
Nickel is the most common irritant (ear-ritant?) when it comes to sensitive ears, That wouldn’t be too big a deal, except for the fact that, unfortunately, nickel is used in many, if not most, of the more affordable earrings on the market. It’s also often used to make piercing guns, which is why it’s important to find an experienced piercer (who will likely pierce with a needle) the next time you get a new hole.
Got it. So, what materials won’t be irritating?
This is where it gets a little tricky. Many earrings are labeled “hypoallergenic,” which you would naturally assume to mean smooth sailing ahead. However, many hypoallergenic earrings—though they don’t contain any nickel on the surface—have nickel underneath their plating. If that coating wears off, your skin will be touching nickel. Instead of hypoallergenic, seek out styles that are marked “nickel-free.” Still, some earrings that are nickel-free aren’t marked as such, which is why it’s important to consider what materials they are made with.
One of your safest bets is medical grade jewelry, which is designed to protect your skin. Beyond that, the best earrings for sensitive ears are generally made with gold, platinum or silver. When looking for gold, make sure to buy earrings that are 14k or above, since very few people are allergic or sensitive to the neutral metal. If solid gold is out of your price range, you can go for gold-plated earrings with a sterling silver or titanium base (which should be clearly marked). With silver, look for sterling silver 925, which means 92.5 percent of what you’re getting is sterling silver, a concentration high enough that sensitive ears will be in the clear. Other materials that work for sensitive ears? Stainless steel, titanium or plastic, though these materials can be more expensive (titanium) or easier to break (plastic).
Shop the nine best earrings for sensitive ears below.
1. Mariana Double Pear Leverback Earrings In Sun-kissed "sunshine"
All the pieces from Mariana Jewelry are handmade in Israel and are nickel-free, lead-free and hypoallergenic, making them a great option for pretty much anyone. We’re fans of this sunshine-y pair, which will brighten up your whole face.
2. Mejuri Small Hoops
Mejuri’s small but mighty hoops (by which we mean you can wear them every single day, with everything you own) are made from 14k solid gold. Since gold is one of the least reactive metals, it scratches less and doesn't wear out as easily. Bonus: These 14k gold babies are rather budget-friendly—especially for a pair you’ll wear constantly.
3. Bony Levy 14k Gold Triangle Stud Earrings
Another brand committed to high-quality metals? Bony Levy. FYI, they’re sold exclusively at Nordstrom but they’ve got plenty of options to choose from.
8. Maria Tash Long Triple Spike Single Earring
Yes, Maria Tash earrings are on the pricier side, but they’re so damn chic (and made with super high-quality materials suitable for sensitive ears). This single spike is nickel-free and made from 14k gold. As for the stones you see? Those are lab-created black opals.
10. Gorjana Moonstone Trio Studs
Set in 14k gold, these ethereal studs shine bright when the light hits.
Buy it ($160)