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The wearing of earrings today is primarily ornamental and helps to "tie an outfit together" by using colors that match or contrast with the overall ensemble. The metals, primarily gold or silver, are complementary to the necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches and pins the wearer selects as accessories. Earrings are also an expression of one's personal taste in art and can be made out of wood, plastic, feathers, ceramics, rubber, shells and even food such as pasta, dried beans and various seeds.
Clip-on or screw-back earrings are detachable and involve a spring hinge that gently clamps on to the ear and, in the case of screw-backs, can be tightened to ensure a secure fit on the ear lobe. Magnetic earrings come in two pieces, a front and a back, and are held in place by magnetism. Dangle earrings, which come in both pierced and clip-on varieties, extend an inch or two below the earlobe and, when worn for formal occasions, usually include lots of sparkling gems (real or fake). Hoop earrings resemble a ring and come in a wide range of sizes, the larger ones usually being reminiscent of gypsies. Ear threads and needles are plastic sticks and threaded chains for the edgier crowd of earring wearers. Stick-on earrings employ small adhesive strips; most of these are for one-time use at parties as a novelty fashion accessory. Ear cuffs are curved bands of metal or plastic that clip on to various parts of the ear.
Earrings can range anywhere in size from metallic or jeweled studs that can be small as half the tip of a pencil eraser to large bangles that can fill the space between the bottom of the ear lobes to the top of the shoulders. In more primitive civilizations, such as parts of Africa, successively heavier ear weights are applied to young girls' ears in order to elongate their ear lobes over a period of time to achieve feminine beauty.