Earrings by Emma: Plastic Post Earrings for Sensitive Ears


Way back at the start of this year, I embarked on an epic quest: to wear earrings again in my now-sensitive ears. I tried everything from nail polish-coated earring posts (don’t do that one) to stainless steel hooks, the only result that kind of worked for me. But stainless steel hooks could only solve so many problems: I still couldn’t wear studs, or any earrings with posts in them.

Then I heard from a guy named Rob, who told me his little girl had solved that problem using plastic posts. I hadn’t heard of plastic posts since I was a little girl myself. So I clicked and found myself in the shiny, glittery, hypoallergenic world of Earrings by Emma.

What is Earrings by Emma?

Emma is 10 years old. With her mom, Sarah, she’s been making her own plastic post earrings for almost two years now, but her parents knew she couldn’t wear metal earrings almost as soon as her ears had been pierced.

Image courtesy of Sarah Shelton

“Piercing her ears at age 6, we quickly learned that real gold was the only metal she could wear without irritation,” says Sarah. “Every other metal, even those claiming to be hypoallergenic and for sensitive ears, would cause her redness, swelling, itching, and infection. So even though she owned lots of earrings, she just wore the same pair every day; the expensive gold pair that didn’t irritate her ears.”

Then, when Emma was eight, she lost an earring in the swimming pool. That was an issue — it wasn’t in the family budget to buy lots of pairs of gold earrings for an eight-year-old.

That’s when Earrings by Emma got started.

If you check out the shop, it’s a sparkly, colorful world of all kinds of shapes, from mermaid tails to flowers to soccer balls to unicorns to the state of Oklahoma.

There are plastic hook earrings, there are post earrings, and there are even plastic clips that convert any pair of earrings into clip-ons.

Intrigued, I asked if I could try a pair of the plastic post studs. Sarah sent two — the blue lightning bolts I selected online (they’re very Ms. Marvel) and a bonus pair of black druzys. I got to testing.

More on how that went in a bit.

Image courtesy of A.J. O’Connell

Plastic earrings to the rescue!

It was Sarah’s idea to find plastic post earrings. She had sensitive ears herself, and wore plastic earrings as a child in the 1980s. There were more of them back then, though. So Emma decided to solve the scarcity problem by making her own. At first she was just making earrings for herself. Then she found out that her friends had the same problem she did, so she wanted to make earrings to sell to them.

“We purchased some supplies, made a few earrings, and advertised on my Facebook page,
says Sarah.  “A few friends and family purchased earrings but probably just to support Emma.  However, when they tried them and realized how great they were for their sensitive ears, they wanted to buy more!”

Emma, her family, and hired friends assemble 98 percent of the earrings themselves. Emma and her mom pick out the earring fronts they want to use online, and then hired friends and family all chip in to either attach plastic posts or hooks.

“Emma is able to assemble the dangles with jump rings on her own but we don’t let her make the studs since the adhesive can be toxic when wet,” said Sarah.  “We have to assemble them outside while wearing a big mask.”

For the first year and a half, Emma and Sarah were the whole company. Now, however, the whole family is in on the venture. Sarah is the CEO, Emma’s dad Rob hunts up new markets and handles growth, Henry, 7, folds boxes and puts earrings on display cards and Dawson, 5, helps to sort earrings.

Image courtesy of Sarah Shelton

Emma, of course, is the earring designer, assembler, and is the chief salesperson — she talks to customers at events, shares her story and helps people choose earrings.

It’s more than a business, said Sarah, it’s an educational experience.

“We are a homeschool family so we have used this business opportunity to teach and train our kids about real life skills such as finances, marketing, inventory management, research, buying and selling, public speaking/customer interaction skills, hard work, and so much more,” she said.

So how did the plastic posts work?

I wore both pairs of earrings for several days and my ears felt great!

I was a little nervous when I first put them in, but I had no problems whatsoever. It almost felt like I didn’t even have earrings in at all because the earrings are so light, and also plastic doesn’t shift in your ears like metal does — when I wear metal I am always tightening the backs of my earrings or checking to make sure I haven’t lost one. With the plastic posts, the friction of the rubber stop on the plastic is enough to keep the studs in place.

Image courtesy of A.J. O’Connell

The studs are also pretty small, but they are so sparkly they really do catch the eye. It’s nice to have earrings that provide a little pop of color near my face. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to wear colorful studs without a problem!

One thing that can feel a little alarming: the posts are flexible, so if you’re used to metal, it can feel like your earrings are breaking even though they spring back if you release pressure immediately. I don’t recommend sleeping in them. I slept in the druzies and bent one post way to the side. So you know, be careful.

What’s the verdict?

Earrings by Emma is gets a double thumbs up from me. The earrings are great, the selection is fantastic, and they don’t break the bank at all. Most of the earrings I was interested in were priced at $10. As a shopper who likes earrings, that’s awesome. As a mother and aunt who’d like to buy earrings for the kiddos (but who knows that those earrings may vanish in short order) that’s amazing.

And, if you’re reading this at the end of 2018, the price is just a little more amazing. Earrings by Emma is offering a special promo code for GeekMom readers. Just click this link or type in GEEKMOM at checkout to get 20 percent off your entire order. This code can be used once per customer, and is good until December 31.

If you’re not allergic to plastic, I totally recommend them. If you’re interested in more information, visit their site at Earrings by Emma.

EDITORIAL NOTE: A previous version of this post stated that Emma and her family assemble the earrings. The earrings are put together by Emma, family members and hired friends. 


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