With multiple ear piercings becoming a mainstream concept, shoppers are in ever-increasing need of ear adornment that feels new and novel. Enter the lobe cuff, a new earring style that’s a hybrid between a hoop earring and an ear cuff. Designed to be worn in a first or second piercing, it sits snugly against the lobe and gives the illusion of wrapping into the ear.
“It’s sophisticated but has an air of rebelliousness,” said Shannon Nataf, the designer of L.A.-based fine jewelry brand Nataf Joaillerie, of the lobe cuff. The edgy look is just that, a look. No extra piercing or tricky placement is required to try out the cuff. Jewelry designer Ana Khouri, who is renowned for her forward-thinking creations, was one of the first to adopt the lobe cuff several seasons ago. Now, it’s a mainstay in her collections.
“My jewelry molds to the body,” Khouri said of the piece’s inspiration. “It is a connection to what’s already there; a wearable sculpture that molds to the woman wearing it.”
The lobe cuff is meant to fit like a second-skin or armor and fits exactly within Khouri’s extension-of-the-body ethos. Different designers have different names for this type of earring, but Khouri calls it her “Miriam” earring, named for her mother.
“I thought of her hugs and how she embraces me,” Khouri explained.
Other designers, such as Khouri’s Brazilian compatriot Ara Vartanian, interpret the style as more of a hook, in the way that it appears to latch onto the ear. Vartanian favors bejeweling this earring type with show-stopping gemstones, like massive emeralds, tanzanite and kunzite.
A lobe cuff has its technical advantages. “Customers love this style because the design is aesthetically different, and it helps balance the weight of the earrings with such a large stone,” Vartanian said. The hook has become a signature for the designer, who incorporates the style both into his main collection and high jewelry pieces.
With items like ear cuffs, ear climbers and huggies making up the modern fine jewelry lexicon, the lobe cuff or ear hook provides further room for designers to experiment and satiate consumers’ desire for something cutting-edge.
“I wanted to have a new way to wear an earring that was still easy to wear, like a stud and that would make a great effect in the ear,” said Yvonne Léon. The French jewelry designer isn’t one to shy away from a new earring style; she was an early adopter of the ear jacket. Her work sits comfortably in the intersection of avant-garde and luxury. She creates ornate, pear-shape diamond-encrusted lobe cuffs that she explains were inspired by the idea of crossing her wedding ring with a hoop earring.
“It’s original and modern, but still elegant,” she emphasized.
Jewelry design powerhouse Anita Ko has built her brand on being the go-to resource for classic yet trend-driven diamonds. She recently added a lobe cuff to her oeuvre, lending the style her signature polish.
“I love putting a contemporary twist on the timeless elegance of diamond earrings, and playing with different silhouettes and shapes is one of my favorite things,” she said. Her version of the lobe cuff utilizes various sizes of diamonds spaced slightly apart to give the illusion that the stones are floating.
“I wanted to give the impression that diamonds are literally wrapped around the ear lobe with this cuff,” she said. With so many high-end designers embracing the style, it’s only a matter of time until the lobe cuff trickles down to the masses. We’ll have to wait and see where jewelers decide to put diamonds next.
For now, our ears are covered.