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January 2002

Professional Bench/Defining Quality


Stud Earrings – Setting Yourself Apart

Knowing the ins and outs of findings demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop


All of us – bench jewelers and sales professionals alike – work hard to earn the respect and loyalty of our customers. It’s called setting ourselves apart and establishing the place where people want to shop. This maxim is never truer than when the economy softens.
Customers may not be flocking into stores to buy expensive jewelry these days. But they still browse for basics such as solitaire necklaces, charms or stud earrings. Selling a simple product such as a pair of stud earrings – and doing it better than your competitors – is an opportunity to set yourself apart.

There are several findings options for stud earrings:

  • Standard preassembled stud earring findings.
  • Standard preassembled stud earring findings with alterations.
  • Stud earrings custom-made from wire and other material (to be covered next month).

Regardless of what you offer your customers, the components that make up earrings contribute to the final product, its wearability and comfort. Here are some features to consider when selling and making stud earrings.

The Earring Post

Quality posts are most often required, but different shaped ears may call for different types of posts. Thin posts tend to bend or break, thick ones can be uncomfortable.

The dimensions for quality posts are:

A. Post diameter – 0.85 mm. This diameter will hold up well and not distort under normal wear.

B. Post length – 11 mm. This length will fit most earlobes nicely without being too long.

C. The locking notch should be set in about 2mm from the end and should be smooth.

D. The tip should be smooth, well-rounded and highly polished.

Custom Fitting a Post

Standard earring posts may require custom fitting. At right are some examples of problems and solutions.

Thin Earlobes

In this case, the customer has thin earlobes. The position of the locking notch on a standard post allows too much space between the back and the earring, causing the earring to droop forward.

The solution is to use a fine-point permanent marker to mark the post at the location where it exits the back of the lobe. File a new locking notch into the post at the marked location. This new notch will hold the earring back in place and keep the stud from drooping forward.
The Short Post

One newer piercing style places earrings high on the ear. Regular posts are too long and will poke into the customer’s scalp. These posts require shortening.

Earring backs

Most suppliers offer earring backs in a wide variety of sizes and weights.

Show your customers a small display of the various earring backs to help them feel more involved in the sale. Once they feel the weight difference, they generally select a heavier quality. Make sure the backs will work with the posts on the earrings.

High-Security Earring Backs

Certain types of backs will offer your customers peace of mind when buying expensive earrings.

High-security backs feature opposing spring-loaded clips that lock securely onto a specially designed post. Your customer has to depress both clips to release the back from the post. B.A. Ballou, a findings company in Rhode Island, is developing a single-sided spring clip that will be even easier for customers to work.

Handling Special Situations

Problem

Heavy earrings stretched the piercing in this earlobe, so a standard back will no longer support a stud.

Solution

Oversized backs firmly but comfortably hold studs against the lobe even if the piercing is stretched. They also help keep heavy earrings upright, even if a piercing is stretched.

Alternative Solution

Small Lucite discs inserted on the post between the back of the ear lobe and the nut before it’s installed are inexpensive and offer a large diameter of support.

Prong Assembly Holding a Stone

When customizing ordinary studs, remember:

A. Prong assemblies should be as close to the ear as possible.

B. Stones set high in tall prong assemblies will droop forward.

C. When viewed from the top, there should be no metal visible other than the prongs.

D. From a side view, prong assemblies can be:

  • Solid (typically die struck).
  • Wire (typically cast or handmade).
  • Tapered in varying angles from straight to steep.

All variations, when used in combination with the proper posts and backs, offer a multitude of choices for customers.

– by Tom Weishaar, JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler and Shop Manager, Underwood's Fine Jewelry, Fayetteville, AR

©2002 Jewelers of America
Illustrations by Lainie Mann – Visual Communications


The JA® Professional’s Guide to
Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship

Stud Earrings – Understanding the Options

By Mark B. Mann, Director of Trade programs, Jewelers of America®


Professionally Prepared Stud Earrings

A. The nut is the proper size for the post and fits securely into the locking position.

B. The post is a diameter that will support the earring and is smooth and highly polished.

C. When viewed from the top, there’s no visible metal with the exception of the prongs.

D. Stones are set close to the base of the prong assembly.

E. The prong tips are smooth and flush against the crown of the stones.

F. Stones should be set according to professional prong-setting standards, as outlined in Professional Jeweler, February 1998, pp. 183-184 or in the JA Professional’s Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship counter book, p. 9.

Potential Problems to Watch for

This post was bent during normal wear. This condition could cause the post to break and the earring to drop off.
This post is too long and will poke the scalp during normal wear.
Lifted or rough prongs will snag in longer hair and be a continuing source of annoyance to your customer.
The prong assembly is too large for the stone, and metal is visible from the top view.

This information is required for second level of the JA® Bench Jeweler Certification™ program.

©2002 Jewelers of America
Illustrations by Lainie Mann – Visual Communications


Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications