Sunday, April 21, 2013

It Ain't Heavy - It's My Earring!

I've been making some longer and larger earrings lately.  Since I'm from that age of huge earrings you just might think it's my earring of choice.  It never was but I'm getting bolder with age.  During that time they just kept growing in size until we all looked ridiculous if we were wearing a stud instead of severed elephants head.  Our heads tilted and our collective ear lobes ached.  While ear lobes naturally grow with us for the rest of our lives some of them began to look stretched, then our tiny holes contained slits in them rather than the original small hole.  Short of surgery to repair the cosmetic damage caused by years of this type of abuse, via vanity, what's there to do?

I know this is an ethnic preference but this does look painful to me. Although I have to say the ones below don't look any less painful to wear for an evening, let alone a lifetime.

Well, you could have guessed that my favorite jewelry to create is earrings.  I thought, as I was matching pieces up, it was high time to have some parameters on what might be acceptable as an earring weight.  Is there a rule?  Does it matter how heavy the earring is if it's really stylish?  No? Yes? Truthfully lots of you are just going to say it doesn't matter if you like the earrings and you'll wear them no matter what - everyone does have variances in their tolerance for weight.  I've been there before and I guess wearing an inappropriately heavy pair of earrings once in awhile wouldn't, in the long run, hurt your ear lobes.  But, I can't wear a pair of those for whole evening before they go in my purse.....and If I'm going to spend either the time or money on a pair I want to feel like I'm going to love the look of them and how they feel in my ears.

I've been working with glass, stones, ceramic, and recycled components for my new earrings.  I've also taken to adding tin to them.  I love recycling the tin.  It was a design decision based on weight and color.  I wanted to have more volume in my earrings - maybe a couple of royally large "statement pieces".  I could create a very large hollow glass bead and that would definitely give me the volume but glass still has a weight to it.  If it's hung on a pendelem (such as a chain) it will "feel" heavier than if it were on a short head pin.  It's the nature of the science.

Since I have to weigh out materials for casting I happen to have a very dependable scale on hand.  So, I googled earring topics (earring weight) to see what I'd come up with.  I love having potential info at my finger tips. 

A lot depends on the kind of earring attachment you are using - obviously a post with a wide clutch on the back is going to help distribute more weight than a standard earring nut - and, of course, common sense dictates they are going to better handle weight than a wire.  Even the gauge of earring wire is helpful.  But after reading quite a bit of material it seems like there is mostly agreement among the designers.

Judith Ripka, award winning designer, feels that 4 grams per earring is a good weight to stay under.  Some say a total of 10 grams for "art" earrings is reasonable, others stay to 7 grams per pair - max.  So, it looks like maybe a design limit of 3.5 grams per earring is reasonable (give or take your choice - wire/post/style and science).

Without a scale how much is a gram?  Well, 3.5 grams = 1/8 oz. (the average size tea bag).  Other weights to help guide you (me) on my quest for earring perfection:

Paperclip            - 1 gram
Penny                 - 2.5 grams
Quarter               - 6 grams
Reese's PB Cup  - 9 grams
2 Nickels            - 10 grams
Average Egg      - 50 grams
Dove Soap Bar   - 100 grams 
Average Apple   - 150 grams

Trust me - I'm unlikely to make anything as large (heavy) for my ears as the last three items on that list !


Lela said...

I have had some of the very same concerns. And I absolutely love your weight comparison chart. hehe :D

Jean A. Wells said...

Oh, my, once I recovered from your first picture (it even made my boobs hurt), I read on and want to thank you for the earring chart. I have had people convo me and ask me if a particular pair of earrings were "heavy". That is such an objective term that the only thing I knew to do was to weigh them in grams and let them know. I guess it helped, who knows? I do know that if earrings get very heavy, I can't wear them for long - or at all. Great post, Sharon.

Anonymous said...

Another major factor to consider besides the weight is wire diameter. Though I have been wearing large earrings for 20+ years, the term "gauging" is newly familiar to a lot of the younger group. It refers to a larger piercing hole which in turn CAN easily support a much heavier ornament without damage if done properly. The common mall-gun piercing is done at a, relatively small, approximately 18-16 gauge. Needle piercings which are done at many tattoo parlors are done at a larger 14-12 gauge. This size hole when healed will accommodate a significantly thicker ear-wire. A thicker wire will support more weight before causing irreversible ear lobe damage. So by using a larger diameter (thickness) of wire you can make larger/heavier creations which will be comfortable to those so pierced. This is common in many other countries where heavier ornaments are much more common. If you provide this as an option, those familiar with the concept will opt for it and you can provide a much larger (in both meanings of the term) selection.

John Pitman said...

I wear brass earrings which weigh 40 grams each. They have very thick hooks (4mm) so cutting through the lobe is not a problem. The hooks slide easily into my holes and I am very much aware of the weight for the first couple of minutes only. I love the feel and wear them all day every day.