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Drop earrings versus chandeliers: what's the difference?

‘Chandelier’  ̶  it’s a term that even sounds shimmery, evoking the atmosphere of a softly lit room where light reflects off each little glass bead. Condensing that feeling into the shape of an earring is nothing short of magnificent. Drop earrings, though, can be just as beautiful. If you’re not sure how to tell the difference, this quick guide can help.


A closer look

Chandelier earrings really do look a bit like the light fixture they’re named after. True to form, there’s a sturdy or more dense part of the earring’s pattern at the top, and then threads that shimmer down and dangle from that structure. It’s those dangling threads that create the sort of wind-chimey feeling as they undulate with your body’s movements. You many not be able to hear light hitting a surface, but it can be felt, and chandelier earrings gather that kind of atmosphere as they whisper next to your ears.


Simplicity defines drop earrings

Drop earrings offer a level of simplicity chandelier earrings just don’t. Chandelier earrings look filled out while still leaving patterned space; drop earrings hold a long, single line from the hook and then its pattern. Imagine a raindrop’s trajectory stilled. First the silver thread as it’s falling, and then that instant when rain first touches a surface, turning its form into a drop, before it slithers away into something formless and connected to the collective. That idea describes a drop earring perfectly.

Some gems at the end of a drop earring chain are circular, while others can be oval or square. Chandelier earrings’ tendrils drape and dangle a bit more loosely, whereas drop earrings move as a whole, simple unit.


Comparing the two

The main difference between chandelier and drop earrings is form: drop earrings ‘drop’ their stones or gems from a vertical thin or thick line-like shape, while chandeliers fan out a bit more from the base in a diamond-like or half circle shape. Drop earrings cut into the space around them, while chandeliers hold some of that space within the earring. Their titles accurately reflect the particular elegant form. Here are a few other differences you may be able to spot between the two types:

  • A drop earring carves an elegant edge into space with its line and condensed droplet, while chandeliers subtly gather and fill out space.
  • Drop earrings can have beads, stones, or gems all along the chain, or just at the end, and while generally a more sparse design than chandeliers, they, too, can have ornate patterns.
  • Some drop earrings might ‘cup’ pearls with silver that looks like foliage draped just at the top of the stones. Some might have one shape closer to the hook, like a flower or circle, and farther down the chain, connect a different shape like an oval or circle.
  • While chandelier earrings clink subtly, drop earrings can also carve negative space by having a thin outline of gems form an empty space inside that resembles a drop shape.
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