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Fashion Through the Decades: Vintage Clip-On Earrings Trends

Clip-on earrings have been a part of people’s jewellery boxes for years and they show no sign of going out of fashion any time soon. If you’re looking to add this must-have piece of jewellery to your wardrobe, we’re here to give you all the history of clip-on earrings over the decades, exploring the ever-changing styles from Art Deco to the 90s and all the decades in-between!

Victorian Morality

Let’s start at clip on earrings rise in popularity. Clip on earrings were a rare accessory up until the Victorian era (1837-1901). With the ushering in of strict morals and values, the Victorians regarded the act of piercing ears vulgar and something more aligned with those of a lower class. As a result, clip on earrings were introduced as a classy way to wear earrings. The most popular style of Victorian earrings at this time was certainly the glamourous chandelier style earring.

Fashion Through the Decades: Vintage Clip-On Earrings Trends

Art Deco Era

The roaring 1920s was a time of unprecedented social change and artistic innovation. The Art Deco style emerged as a dominant style, characterized by geometric patterns and bold colours. Clip-on earrings of this era often featured intricate designs, incorporating geometric shapes, filigree details, and sparkling gemstones. The women of the 1920s embraced a new found sense of freedom with the flapper style, opting for shorter hairstyles which further allowed earrings to become the centre of attention! The finely detailed dangling styles added a touch of sophistication to more boyish flapper dresses and finger-wave hairstyles.

Glamourous 1930s

The 1930s embraced Hollywood glamour, and clip-on earrings became an essential accessory for the silver screen’s leading ladies. Jewellery took angular inspiration from the Art Deco era but really returned to the heavier origins in the Victorian style. Unlike the Victorian era, the 1930s worked with a variety of coloured gemstones, using angular cut sapphires and rubies set in white metals.  This being said it was diamonds that really shone on screen. Films at the time were shot in black and white, meaning that white-on-white jewellery really sparkled in the cinema. The statement pieces adorned with oversized gemstones were certainly favoured, complementing the glamourous gowns and updos that defined this era.


By the 1940s, elaborate diamond jewellery was less common due to the adjustment to life post war. Jewellery trends shifted even further from the art-deco shapes in favour of rounded shapes making yellow gold hoops and button-like stud earrings more popular at this time. Materials like nickel, copper and zinc, which are used to create white gold, were restricted for exclusive use for the war effort leaving yellow gold and silver as the principal materials for jewellery manufacturers.

1950s Chic

The 1950s brought forth an era of prosperity and post-war exuberance. Whilst yellow gold was still popular for daytime looks, white metals like platinum became preferred for evening-wear. Mid-Century modern influences were evident in the streamlined, minimalist designs of clip-on earrings at the time, featuring abstract shapes and innovative materials. From Audrey Hepburn’s iconic pearl earrings to Marilyn Monroe’s glamorous diamond studs, clip-on earrings became synonymous with timeless elegance.

The Swinging Sixties

The 1960s marked a period of cultural revolution and experimentation in fashion. Ear piercing became an act of rebellion and earrings for pierced ears started to rise in popularity. Clip-on earrings were still worn by many, with styles taking on bold, avant-garde designs influenced by Pop Art and the psychedelic hippie movement. Oversized, colourful, and geometric shapes adorned the ears of the fashion-forward, reflecting the era’s free-spirited and rebellious attitude. Non-traditional materials like plastics and unconventional patterns became popular choices for jewellery of the 1960s.

Disco Seventies

As the disco ball lit up the dancefloors, clip-on earrings embraced the bold and shimmering styles of the ‘70s. Intricate hoop designs and bold gemstone stood out, paired with sequins, beads, and metallic accents became the go-to accessory for disco queens. The era of excess encouraged bold self-expression, and clip-on earrings were no exception.


The earring trend of the eighties was varied. Styles were often colourful and on the larger side, or boldly ladylike. The size and weight of earrings grew, making clip-on earrings hugely popular at the time. In the 80s it became more common for men to adorn earrings – George Michal favoured a hoop earring with a dangling cross whilst Boy George loved the bigger and bolder styles. This era also saw the rise of the ‘door-knocker’ style across cultures. The popularity of the bold, statement, gold earrings shaped liked door knockers were immortalised in rap songs and celebrated black and Latino cultures and style.


Pierced ears had become more common by the 90s including a surge body piercing popularising nose rings and eyebrow piercings. Clip-ons were still worn by many as the bold of the 80s continued into the 90s but became more streamlined, with long drop earrings championed by the celebrities on the red carpet. In the same decade, Princess Diana re-popularised the simple stud for a timeless and classy look which is still popular to this day.

In conclusion, clip-on earrings have certainly changed over the years. The beauty of buying antique and vintage earrings is you can revisit your favourite styles with authentic pieces from the actual era! Explore our range of clip-on earrings online today for your perfect pair!

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