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  • Jacqui Williamson

80s Earrings

Updated: Jan 9, 2021


As with every era eighties earrings had distinct characteristics, finishes, motifs etc. Often 80s earrings were oversized and had a little weight to them, although with regards to weight this was sometimes dependent on the quality of manufacture or whether the piece was higher end. Higher end pieces would usually be stamped with a maker’s mark or maker’s logo, that said so were some High Street brands such as M&S and Accessorize. This is one of the ways in which you can identify when pieces were made or are authentic because logos and typefaces can be attributed to different years as over the years makers marks and logos are often altered and feature specific details etc. Sadly, researching makers is often difficult which is a shame this is due to the lack of documentation and images available.



There were finishes that were typically available in the 80s. Matt and satin finishes finishes weren’t commonplace single finishes during the eighties unlike today and back in the sixties and seventies. It was not uncommon however to see matt and satin together with highly polished finishes on individual pieces. Thought mixed metals is a new thing. Nope. During the eighties you would often see items that were finished in gold with silver. Rose gold was not a thing, although you would sometimes see some copper. Mixed metal pieces were available with the main body in silver for example and the edge picked out in gold. Wearing multiple earrings in different colored metals was not a thing, unlike nowadays nor was mixing metals with regards to styling other jewellery.



There was a trend for multiple piercings although it often stopped at two per ear for women and a singular piercing for men (usually a small plain stud or small sleeper for men, this changed in the nineties and moving forward). The large bulky statement earrings didn’t translate well with the trend for multiple piercings. Persons with multiple piercings tended to go down the route of wearing pieces not so commonly associated with the 80s, more delicate items such as skinny hoops in the same size, graduating sizes or hoops with a small studs, or just a pair of studs in each ear. Skinny and thick hoops were everywhere from very small to large, although not as large in diameter as those found in the noughties when they hit your shoulders. The large thick highly decorated hoops from the eighties have been imitated over the years as they have gone in and out of fashion and it can be difficult to identify original 80s ones which could be desirable.

Enamel was very commonly used as were large domed faux pearls and pave diamantes or rhinestone finishes. Enamel finished earrings had many popular themes and motifs such as wings/shells, and knot/woven/plait inspired designs. Some of these motifs or designs were also available in all metal finishes and yet again have come in and out of fashion and for this reason can also be hard to identify as genuine 1980s pieces, the mixing or materials was very common such as enamel, with rhinestones and displayed metal parts. Chunky and oversized hearts, flowers were also popular themes seen in all metal and mixed material finishes. Geometrical designs from triangles to parallelogram inspired shapes were available also and could be seen in all fashion accessories and clothing/fabric design.



Butterflies tended to be on the larger size and the ones with clear plastic rounds were first seen in the eighties (often with higher end earrings at that time, now available with many earrings at different ends of the scale).

Button earrings, dangly earrings were as popular as they are today and were sometimes so heavy that they stretched your ears, not a good look. Although there are ways around this. Clips ons were very common as the trend for piercing your ears wasn’t as prevalent as it is today and you didn't get stretched piercings from the weight. Contemporary clips ons are now quite rare. Higher end earrings were often available as clip ons and pierced, although they could give quite different looks because of the fittings and the way they hung. Clip ons would often have a small rubber bung that would provide some comfort to the wearer, they could be replaced as they wouldn’t necessarily last the life of the earrings.

As previously indicated not all earrings were large and bulky in the 80s even though this is the style, we most commonly associate with earrings of that era and are now the most desirable and sought after from the 80s.


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