Earring-Back Debate Is Put to Rest as Disk Inventor Emerges to Set the Record Straight

Let us breathe a collective sigh of relief because the Great Earring-Back Debate has been settled — thanks to the guy who invented the plastic disk-shaped thingamabob at the core of the controversy.

An amused Ira Carlin, the 65-year-old self proclaimed "Earring Doctor," told the Toronto Star that there is no grey area when it comes to the purpose of the clear plastic piece that consumers often find affixed to their metal earring backs.

“You actually leave it on. Period. Categorically, emphatically, from the expert's mouth, you leave it on,” Carlin said. "It’s not part of packaging. It’s part of functionality.”

The item even has a name. Carlin invented "Le Disc Plus™" in the mid-1980s as an easy and inexpensive way to solve his wife's problems related to heavy earrings and droopy earlobes. The invention became a commercial hit and Carlin has sold tens of millions of them.

According to his web site, "LeDisc Plus™" provides support and stability to earlobes, enhances earring presentation, provides extra comfort, prevents sagging earrings and eliminates back clasp irritation on the earlobe.

Carlin described the dynamics of how the earring backs really work...

“If you were to hang a painting on a curtain it would tilt forward," he told the Toronto Star, "but if you put a board behind a curtain and then hung a painting on it, it would stay stable,” he said. “And that’s exactly what took place with my first item.”

Last week, we reported on the Twitter-fueled national debate over whether the plastic backings should be removed and tossed away, or whether they served a useful purpose. The issue was lampooned on The Today Show, and NBC conducted an online poll, where viewers let their opinions be know. Viewers overwhelmingly agreed — 92% vs. 8% — that the plastic part should stay on.

The earring drama originated with an August 1 tweet by Chelsea Smith, who revealed she had spent her entire life wearing her earrings “wrong.”

The 19-year-old posted photos of two earring backs, one with the plastic disk intact, and the other with the disk removed. Her revelation: “After my nineteen years of living I have now realized that you are supposed to take the plastic part off.”

Carlin called the Twitter debate "a hoot" and said he first learned about it when stories emerged on his Google Alert, which he has programmed to delivery "earring" stories.

He is also enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. "I’m getting so much fun out of it,” he said.

Credits: Ira Carlin via Getty Images; LeDisc Plus via earringdoctor.com; Twitter/Chelsea Smith