I’ve been loving the ear jewelry that’s emerged in the past year. There are so many options! But the trend that’s (thankfully) replaced the statement necklace started, as many trends do, quite slowly. Miley Cyrus flaunted her ear cuffs in 2012, when she cut her hair short. But Miley’s style is risky — her short ‘do was too punk for a lot of people. For a trend to go mainstream, it needs mainstream acolytes. Actress Emma Watson fits that bill perfectly. She looked pretty — with just a dash of edginess — when she wore diamond ear cuffs to the premiere of The Bling Ring in June 2013.
Similarly, I added single earrings to my line back in October 2012, inspired by the style that I wore in the 1980s.
But the style didn’t go mass-market till this January, after guess-who made a splash at the Golden Globes with her single earring? Yep, it was Emma Watson again. While quite a few of her peers opted for ear cuffs for that event, she was already experimenting with something else. The jewelry industry has definitely taken note of the buzz. At the big JCK Las Vegas jewelry trade show that I attended at the end of May/beginning of June, it was “all about the ear,” as JCK Magazine senior editor Jennifer Heebner reported. She wrote that “nearly every firm had a funky ear offering,” including ear cuffs, climbers (longer earrings that curve up the ear lobe rather than hanging down) and jackets (decorative backs that hang below the earlobe). Mismatched studs — including “front-back” earrings, like the one Watson wore at the Globes — are also hot, as US Magazine recently reported.
This look has fashion editors hitting the piercing parlors so they can load up on more studs. If you’ve done the same and want to add to your collection of mismatched studs, you’ve come to the right place. I have about 80 stud earring styles on my website now!
I wear four studs regularly (usually my screw earring, middle finger earring, gun earring and skull earring, all in 18K gold) but lately I’ve found myself craving something else. The last time I felt this craving was in 1998, long before my jewelry-designing career began. I woke up one day that year with a desire for giant gold hoop earrings — 2″ in diameter or more. Off I went to a store I used to like, to ask for the biggest hoops they had. I still remember the snotty and very tall saleswoman literally looking down her nose at me while she said, “No one is showing earrings like that.” She was so rude that I persisted just to drive her crazy, making her take me through practically everything on that jewelry floor. She finally came up with 1″ diameter hoops. That was the best she could do. I still have them.
They weren’t really what I was looking for, but it was better than nothing.
I thought of that saleswoman a year later, in 1999, when Jennifer Lopez released her debut album On the 6. Hoop earrings like the ones she wore in her “If You Had My Love” video soon become a signature look for Lopez — and for a lot of other people too.
Big and bigger hoops had their biggest moment since the 1980s heyday of the bamboo “doorknockers.” The trend continued for years.
Hoop earrings were so hot that they were reserved for the queen bee, Regina George (played by Rachel McAdams), in the 2004 movie Mean Girls. Her sidekick, Gretchen (Lacey Chabert), complaining about Regina, said:
“If only you knew how mean she really is, you’d know that I’m not allowed to wear hoop earrings, right? Yeah, two years ago she told me hoops earrings were her thing, and I wasn’t allowed to wear them anymore. And then for Hanukkah my parents got this pair of really expensive white-gold hoops and I had to pretend like I didn’t even like them. It was so sad.”
You can glimpse my white-gold hoops in this photo from 2002.
Big hoops were a surprisingly long-running trend, like other trends I wrote about for the Huffington Post last year. J. Lo was particularly devoted. Here she is wearing a giant pair at the premiere of the Michael Jackson This Is It movie in 2009.
Now, with all the emphasis on the ear, it’s time for the huge hoop to make a true comeback. Racked NY warns against looking like late ’90s J. Lo., but I say go for it. After all, that’s the look I whipped up for myself recently.
I wore these when MrB and I went to see the limited run of tick tick … BOOM! at New York City Center on June 28. tick tick … BOOM! was originally performed as an autobiographical, one-man show by the late Jonathan Larson. In it, he fretted about turning 30 while still working as a waiter at a diner as he struggled to find success as a theatrical composer. The Jon in the play, like the real Jon, was trying to make something of his futuristic musical, Superbia, which, in real life, was never fully produced. That was disappointing to Larson, but the work he wrote to vent his disappointment was seen by a producer named Jeffrey Seller, who later went to a workshop performance of Larson’s next play: Rent. Of course, Rent went on to be a massive hit, winning a Pulitzer Prize, playing on Broadway from 1996 to 2008, and becoming a movie in 2005. The tragic thing, as you may know, was that Larson didn’t live to see his success. He died on Jan. 25, 1996 — the day of Rent‘s Off-Broadway preview — of an aortic dissection caused by Marfan Syndrome. He went to two different hospitals in the days before his death, complaining of severe chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness, but, in both cases, the doctors he saw failed to diagnose his problem Aortic dissection continued to be frequently overlooked by medical personnel until 2003, when the death of actor John Ritter and a Pulitzer-Prize-winning series of articles in the Wall Street Journal drew attention to the condition.
tick tick … BOOM! is often funny, but in a bittersweet way because of the back story. After Larson died, it was expanded into a three-person piece. At City Center, the role of Jon was played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who, having worked as an English teacher while he wrote the Tony-winning musical In the Heights, can certainly relate to the Larson-based character. Karen Olivo, who starred with Miranda in In the Heights, played Jon’s girlfriend, Susan, who wants to leave New York City for a more civilized life in a slower-paced place. Leslie Odom, Jr., played Jon’s best friend Michael, who had given up the artistic life to enjoy the riches of a Madison Avenue job even as he struggles with a recent diagnosis of AIDS.
I don’t go to enough theater in New York, because I missed Karen Olivo in In the Heights AND in her Tony-winning portrayal of Anita in the 2009 revival of West Side Story. Shame on me, because she has one of those powerhouse, bring-the-house-down, Idina Menzel voices. (Menzel has a Larson connection too — she originated the role of Maureen in Rent.) Someone get Karen Olivo an animated Disney movie so she can have her own “Let It Go” moment! Why has Hollywood been sleeping on her? Yeah, she had a gig on the television show Harry’s Law for a while, but last year, like Larson’s Susan character, she left New York for Madison, Wis., because she was so sick of what the New York Times described as “…plenty of defeats … on both coasts: demoralizing auditions, readings and workshops that paid little and went nowhere, periods when she barely worked the minimum number of weeks to keep up her Actors’ Equity health insurance …” I guess starring in a hit musical and winning a Tony can leave you with the “fame doesn’t equal fortune” scenario. That’s too bad and I demand someone fix this immediately.
Anyway, here is the rest of my outfit from that night. I’m leaning against the Robert Indiana Love statue on 6th Avenue in this photo (click to enlarge).
You can see more of the sculpture in this picture.
As for the earrings, if you’ve saved your old ones — as so many of my friends have! — it’s time to bring ’em out again. Jennifer Lopez had hers on for a television appearance in June. Super-moody singer Lana Del Rey wore a giant pair when she performed at the Glastonbury music festival in England on the same day I was wearing my hoops to the theater. Lana and I are really thinking alike lately.
That said, I kicked myself when I saw those “ratchet” earrings back in 2012, because I’d been toying with adding “ratchet” to my collection of word necklaces. For some reason I hesitated, and then these earrings popped up. Lesson learned. I’ve never again hesitated on a word-necklace idea! I’m following my instincts with the hoops too. You gotta go where inspiration takes you!
UPDATED TO ADD: For my gorgeous commenters who are anxious to note that giant hoops never left us entirely, I hope it is clear that my reply is, “Of course!” Telling you that hoops are back is the same as pointing out that stud earrings or, going outside of the jewelry category, sneakers are hawt right now. They were always around — they just weren’t a la mode. But now, for instance, sneakers are on the Chanel and Dior runways and fashion-forward people want new and different sneakers. Same with hoops, and I’m going to have some good options, so start saving up for those!