The History of Earrings in Less Than 10 Minutes
We have grown so accustomed to seeing earrings being worn in the ears of many women (and men) that we may think that these fashion accessories have been around forever. But just like everything else, there was a point of origin and there once was a time when earrings did not exist.
If you want to find out how these fashion accessories originated, read on to find out more.
Today, earrings are mostly worn to enhance the aesthetics of outfits, but in the past, they were a symbol used to identify people with a specific culture or tribe.
The first earring can be traced back to around 2500 BCE. During this era, Sumerian women wore crescent shaped hoops which were later dug up in archaeological finds.
Of course, earring wearing has always been closely related to Egyptian culture. Earrings were introduced in Egypt around 1500 BCE and were worn by both men and women. They could be described as mushroom shaped studs or plugs which required the ear hole to be stretched when worn.
In 1000 BCE, tapered hoops or boat shaped earrings came into vogue. These were usually made of gold, but silver and bronze were also worn. These styles were common in Western Asia.
Meanwhile, in Crete and Cyprus, earrings embellished with twisted gold wires, clusters of beads and pendants stamped out of thin gold sheets were the latest trend.
By the first millennium, earrings became more refined and were seen as a sign of wealth. Disk earring with pendants and gold hoops with animal heads were some of the latest styles.
Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries
Earrings virtually disappeared from the 11th to 16th centuries due to the popular wearing of headdresses and collars that covered the ears. However, in the 16th century, they started to come back in a big way.
At first, complex enamel designs were popular but soon gem cutting took over and many would wear faceted diamonds. Pear shaped pendants were another hot, new trend. During this time, men also began wearing earrings in one ear.
In the late 17th century, earring designs became more elaborate. Chandelier earrings were worn by those who could afford them. Stylized ribbons were used to tie gems to the ear. Often, the earrings were so heavy, additional rings had to be soldered to the top to balance out the weight.
Then the 19th century arrived, and clothing styles began to get simpler. Earring trends changed along with them. During this time, neoclassical inspired cameos and pendant earrings came into vogue. Jewelry sets that consisted of matching earrings, necklaces and bracelets brought fashion to a new level.
Changes in hairstyle trends also affected earring fashions. In the 1830’s hair was worn in elaborate upsweeps that put a spotlight on ears and called for accessories that were equally as elaborate.
In the 1850’s hair was worn down and parted in the middle and ears were barely visible. During this time, women rarely wore earrings at all.
At the end of the 19th century, high collars came back in vogue and large, glamorous pendants dwindled in popularity. At this time, simple diamond studs made a resurgence.
In the early 20th century, earrings were on the decline as many found putting an unnecessary hole in the ear ‘barbaric’, but with a rise in costume jewelry, they made a comeback.
In the roaring 20’s, earrings were the essential finishing touch for the short bobs women were wearing.
In the 40’s art deco looks brought in brightly colored earrings that were close to the head.
The 60’s love child look made way for bold hoops that were replaced by the natural look of the 70’s.
The 80’s were all about bold neons which were quickly downplayed in the 90’s grunge era.
Today, just about any look has been brought in and out of vogue. We have seen revivals of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and we have relived the earring looks of all those decades. We have even embraced the tarnished metals of ancient Egypt and the elaborate pendants of the nineteenth century.
With all these styles to choose from, the ones you wear will be a matter of personal, style, taste and comfort. So tell us, which era inspires you the most?
If you'd like to find out some more interesting facts about earrings, click here.