- "The Betans seemed very good about keeping congruent to [their social signals from earrings]. Of course, they had so many choices. Wearing a false signal was highly disapproved, socially. It screws it up for the rest of us, a Betan had once explained to her. The whole idea is to eliminate the weird guessing-games."
- ―Kareen reflects on Betan earrings[src]
Earrings on Beta Colony were used to encode information about a person's sexual availability and interests. These could be in both ears or only in one (the left ear only was seen in Diplomatic Immunity).
In The Warrior's Apprentice, the suggestion was that earrings were only worn by women, but later books implied that all Betans wore them. For the women, and probably the hermaphrodites, the first pair of earrings was traditionally given on the occasion of a first menstrual period, typically in the 12-14 age range.
- "Romantically attached, not looking."
- "Yes, I'm a consenting and contraceptive-protected adult, but I am presently in an exclusive relationship, so please do not embarrass us both by asking."
- "Not in the market, no thanks."