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The Ultimate Guide to Finding Diamond Earrings That Well…Rock

By Stephanie Dore

When it comes to dressing (or gifting) your best, there’s nothing that pulls a look together quite like a pair of diamond earrings. But when you’re shopping for diamond earrings, forget the big box mall jewelers and their questionable quality studs, we know you want something that will last you a lifetime, sparkle like mad, and fit your budget all at the same time. Well, darling, at Frank Darling we’re all about top-notch, heirloom quality diamond earrings that fit your modern style, available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. But before you dive into the collection, there’s a few things you should know about shopping for diamond earrings. Check it out:

Don’t Forget the 4Cs

Whether you’re shopping for a diamond engagement ring, a diamond pendant, or diamond earrings, the same rules apply. Diamonds are graded and priced by the 4Cs of quality. Cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Cut is the most important of the 4Cs because how well a diamond is cut — its proportions, symmetry, and polish — plays the biggest role in determining the diamond’s sparkle, and we know that’s really what you’re all about. An excellent cut diamond can even help disguise some diamond inclusions and make a diamond look larger than its carat weight. Prioritizing cut is definitely on our list of pro tips to heed when you’re shopping for diamond earrings, whether online or in person. 

Color and clarity often come down to personal preference, as some folks really want a flawless stone, or a champagne diamond, or another combo of unique qualities. Looking for an eye-clean clarity diamond, where you can’t see any inclusions to the naked eye, rather than a super-high clarity stone, can save you significant cash. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the right balance of qualities and size that work for you, but you can use the 4Cs as levers and adjust to fit your budget and preferences.

Choose Your Metal Wisely

Choosing the right metal for diamond earrings is entirely a personal preference, but there are a few basic options everyone should know about. Metal for diamond earrings usually includes different karatages of gold as well as platinum. Platinum is typically a bit more expensive than gold, however, the pricing depends on market metal prices. So what are the differences? If you choose platinum diamond earrings, you’ll get a naturally white, hypoallergenic metal that is both very strong and pliable, which means it is often used for intricate designs that need to hold up over time. While pure gold is 24k karat, it is too soft for daily wear and therefore alloyed with other metals including silver and copper. Gold diamond earrings come in different karatages, commonly including 10k, 14k, and 18k. Gold also comes in different colors, including classic yellow gold, the very popular white gold, and warm pink rose gold.

So what’s in our gold? Well, here at Frank Darling, we care about the planet. So we use 100% recycled gold and platinum for our jewelry. It’s reclaimed from post-consumer sources and re-refined. It’s exactly the same as newly mined gold (yes, gold is mined out of the Earth just like diamonds!) without the environmental damage. Our sources include recycled jewelry, industrial products, and electronics.

  • Our 18K rose gold is 75% gold, 24% copper, 1% silver with trace elements of zinc. The zinc accentuates the color of the copper and gives it a lovely blush pink hue.
  • Our 18K gold alloy is 75% gold, 15% silver, and 10% copper.
  • Our 14K white gold is 58% gold, 23% copper, 9% copper and 10% nickel.
  • Our 18K white gold alloy is 75% gold, 14% copper, 5% zinc and 6% nickel.
  • Our platinum alloy is 95% platinum and 5% ruthenium, another member of the platinum family.

Know Your Diamond Earring Style

It’s probably no surprise, but there are so many different types of diamond earrings out there, we could probably create an entire blog just on this subject alone. But knowing what style you’re looking for before you start your shopping will help narrow the field, and goodness knows we all need life to be a bit less overwhelming whenever possible. So here are the basics:

Diamond Studs are solitaire, or single, diamonds mounted into a simple setting with a post back and push closure. You can change up the setting style with prongs, bezels, or our signature clutch half-bezel setting for something modern and unique. Prong settings are very classic, while bezel-set diamond stud earrings lend a smooth, modern feel to the style.

Diamond Hoops are a continuous circle that appears to loop through the earlobe, with a post that might close in a seamless style or with a hinged latch, perhaps. Diamond hoops might have diamonds only along the front side, or they come in eternity diamond hoops with diamonds all the way around the circle for a continuous line of sparkle. You can find hoops in many different sizes, from those that hug the earlobe, often called “Huggies” to diamond hoops a few inches in diameter, and many different widths as well, from a single micro-pave line of diamonds to several rows wide and everything in between. A petite pair is great for adding to your daily earring rotation, while a larger or wider pair might be more suited to a special occasion.

Diamond Drops include a wide variety of designs that drop from the earlobe. Whether you like a chain drop with a single diamond at the end, a classic two-diamond teardrop style, a graduated diamond journey earring, or something more fanciful, there are diamond drop earrings to suit everyone’s style. 

Diamond Chandeliers are the most elaborate of the bunch, and basically mean any style with multiple tiers of diamonds falling from the earlobe. Chandelier earrings often have one point where all the drops connect, at the ear, and flow out from there. They can include many different design elements like teardrops, floral designs, loops, and more.

If you’re buying a gift for someone and aren’t quite sure what their style is, you really cannot go wrong with a pair of diamond stud earrings, so we’d recommend starting there. But otherwise, the style you’re shopping for probably comes down to how and when you’ll wear your diamond earrings. Fancy occasions might call for something more dramatic, like a long diamond drop earring or a pair of layered chandelier earrings with tons of movement and sparkle. But if you’re looking for something a bit more day-to-day, diamond studs and diamond hoops are super versatile and understated enough to go from the farmers market to the boardroom.

emerald cut diamond half bezel studs

Game, Set, Match

While diamond earring style is one thing, referring to the overall design of the entire earring, diamond earring settings are another. When we talk about stone settings, we’re talking about how each diamond is secured, and settings themselves come in an array of different styles too! We know, it’s a lot. But bear with us.

Prong settings Prong set diamond earrings are typically offered in two different styles: the basket setting or the martini style setting. A basket setting is the most classic of classic diamond earrings — it has a tapered square shape with two cross bars when viewed from the side, with prongs reaching up and over the diamond to secure it in place. You’ll usually see 4 prong settings, but (especially for larger diamonds) 6-prong settings are also available. Martini settings, when viewed from the side, are more triangular like a martini glass, and coming to a point in the back where the post is attached. On either setting style, the prong tip shape can also vary a bit from a ball-type tip to a more elongated claw prong.

Bezel settings Bezel set diamond earrings completely surround the diamond with a thin strip of metal, offering the most security for keeping the diamond in place, and a smooth-edged, modern look. Bezels can also make a diamond appear slightly larger by adding visual diameter. Bezels should always be custom-fit to your stone, with no visible gaps between the diamond and the metal.

Half bezel settings A half-bezel diamond earring setting would encircle the diamond on two sides, or on opposite sides of a round diamond. This is still very secure, but gives a bit of a lighter appearance and adds a design element to the diamond earring. Our signature clutch earrings are a bold, yet delicate, ultra-low profile half-bezel that boasts a sculptural wire setting that floats off the ear. 

Sizing Things Up (or Down) 

When it comes to choosing the right size diamond earrings, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, size and carat weight are two different things. Carat weight refers to the actual physical weight of the stone, not its size, and while the two are often in accordance, you should always look at both the carat weight and the millimeter measurements of the diamonds. Second, carat weight for earrings is listed as a total carat weight, meaning for both earrings. So if it says “1 cttw” that means “one carat total weight” for both earrings together, i.e. split it in half to determine the weight of each earring. 

Carat weight also plays a major role in diamond pricing. It’s good to start with a budget in mind before you get your sights set on a particular diamond size. There are a few ways to make your budget work harder, including shopping just under the full carat marks. For instance, shopping for .90 carats instead of 1 carat can save you a lot of money while not being visibly different in size, especially if you go for high-cut grade diamonds. And remember that round diamonds are more expensive than other shapes, so look at fancy shapes to save some money and get more visual size. For instance, an oval cut diamond can be about 15-20% cheaper than a round and appear 15-20% larger for your money!

Hitting the Links

When you’re ready to shop for diamond earrings, don’t shy away from the internet. While there are plenty of traditional retail outlets, shopping for diamond earrings online these days is really quite simple — and trustworthy to boot. But you have to know where to look. Reputable online diamond jewelry retailers like Frank Darling should provide you with plenty of options for certified diamonds, complete with grading reports, photos, and videos of your exact diamond options. You’ll also find warranties that protect the life of your jewelry and secure diamond earring transactions so you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Let Me See The Stones

Now that you know everything you need to about shopping for diamond earrings, from finding your style to the right carat size for your stones, you’re ready to roll. Check out the Frank Darling signature diamond earring collection to see a variety of modern classic styles that you can customize with the metal and diamonds of your choice. Or start with the diamonds, Check out our diamond search where you can view 360-degree images of more than 10,000 diamonds, and don’t forget to zoom out (because size can be deceiving), or book a virtual or offline appointment at our New York or San Francisco studio to view certified lab-grown and natural diamonds in person. 

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