Earrings are the accessory of the moment, and there's nothing subtle about the hottest styles.

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Earrings are the accessory of the moment, with amped-up drama that works on the red carpet or the beach.

Let’s be frank: It’s not about being subtle. The most extreme styles are “shoulder dusters,” reaching from the lobe to, yes, the shoulder and beyond, along with nearly head-sized hoops and surprisingly striking ornamental pieces. Prices are as vast as the earrings, going from inexpensive costume varieties to extravagant danglers set with precious stones that need to be locked in a vault when not being worn.

“It’s time to supersize yourself,” says Simone I. Smith, whose eponymous jewelry collection offers dozens of hoop styles in large and extra-large sizes. Gigantic hoops are not new for Smith personally. “I’ve been wearing them since my husband bought me my first pair when I was 17 in 1987,” she says. (For the record, that husband is LL Cool J.)

“As short as I am,” says Smith, who measures in at 5 feet 1.5 inches tall, “I love big earrings, and I do them in a lot of different shapes and sizes.” Smith sees the movement toward big as burgeoning. “Women are definitely getting more daring, and big earrings were all over the runway shows.”

Karen Giberson, president of the Accessories Council, agrees that the trend may well have been born on the runway. “It first hit our radar in the fall collections,” she says. “We saw it in New York, Paris and Milan, where designers were paying a lot more attention to the earring.”

Cristabelle Drama Earrings (left), $58 at Nordstrom; Oscar de la Renta Silk Tassel Drop Clip-On Earrings, $395 at Nordstrom
Cristabelle Drama Earrings (left), $58 at Nordstrom; Oscar de la Renta Silk Tassel Drop Clip-On Earrings, $395 at Nordstrom

The drama of the look is accessible to all ages, Giberson says. “You see photos of everyone from Michelle Obama to Selena Gomez wearing it,” she says.

And lightweight materials, such as tassels, pompoms and acetate, further the appeal, along with a new interest in clip-ons, Giberson says.

The weight is an important factor, says celebrity stylist Jacqui Stafford. “With heavier earrings you need to take them off after wearing them for an hour … they’re so uncomfortable,” she says. In terms of style, she advises wearing statement earrings without much other jewelry, noting they “should be the main focus.”

This season, Stafford says, they’re best worn “with those fabulous, shoulder-baring tops. It’s very senorita style.” And a major added benefit, she says: “Hipper, more youthful earrings are like cool eyewear. They can make you look youthful and 10 years younger.”