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For the Love of Earrings - A Short History



I don't know about you, but I feel strange when I hop in the trusty Dog Mobile and then notice I have forgotten to put on a pair of earrings!   At least there, in the driveway, I can hop out of the truck, run inside and grab a pair to put on.  But, heaven help me, if I get somewhere and realize I am earrings-less!  It's like the world has tilted just a bit on its axis and I’m in the Upside Down.  Being an ardent wearer of pierced earrings since the early 1970’s, I have quite the collection of handcrafted Native American earrings  - and earrings I’ve made myself and then couldn’t part with.  Just LOVE them!  




Turquoise and Red Coral Crystal Pearl Southwest-inspired Dangle Earrings Handmade by Kahty of KatsAllThat




Because of my love for earrings (both wearing them and making them), I decided a new blog about the history of earrings would be fun to pull together.  Plus I asked talented jewelry artist friends to submit two pairs of their favorite earrings to be highlighted in the post.  You’ll find there’s a wide range of earrings styles: from classically elegant to fun and funky and everything in between.  They’re a perfect backdrop to the history of earrings.  Here’s some of what I found:




Aqua Blue Lampwork Glass Dangle Earrings with Sterling Silver Handmade by Charlotte of Covergirlbeads




Pierced earrings have graced the earlobes of men and women since at least 3000 B.C.  The oldest earrings to date have been found in royal graves in Iraq.  Both Moses and Abraham mention earrings in the Bible’s Old Testament.  Dating from about 500 B.C, several walls of the ancient Apadana Palace, Persepolis, Iran (then Persia) have carved images of soldiers wearing earrings.  Earrings have been used as symbols of adornment, wealth and social standing, cultural identification, superstition, religion and even currency throughout human history.  Ancient Egyptians preferred earrings made of gold.  The Greeks used many types of metals, but favored gold, and sometimes adorned them with multicolored gemstones.  Wealthy Roman women used earrings, often encrusted with gemstones, to show off their social status.  Even the "common" people wore earrings, although the designs were much more modest.




Lightweight Apple Wood and Resin Exotic Wood Earrings Handmade by Roxanne of ExoticWoodJewelryAnd




Hoops and pendant dangle earrings were the earliest designs attached through earlobes by piercing, one of the oldest known forms of body modification.  In primitive cultures, evil spirits were believed to be kept from entering the body by wearing earrings.  Earrings were also thought of as "curative" to many ancient cultures.  Piercing the ears was recommended to strengthen weak eyes, especially gold earrings set with emeralds.  Gold earrings were often "prescribed" to help cure headaches.  




Pink, Blue and Red Polymer Clay Dangle Earrings Handmade by Julie of Blue Morning Expressions




When someone dresses like a pirate today, a gold earring is almost always part of the wardrobe, altough historian are not 100% sure if the custom is real or imaginary.  Legend has it that ancient sailors began to wear gold hoops when ships were built that could withstand voyages of long distances taking weeks, months and sometimes years to complete.  A generally superstitious group, sailors supposedly wore earrings for several reasons:  an earring signified the wearer crossed the equator, sailed around the world or survived a shipwreck; an earrings was supposed to prevent seasickness; an earring improved eyesight or hearing; an earrings was supposed to prevent drowning; and, in case of death by drowning because of a shipwreck, a gold earring would pay for a proper burial wherever the body washed ashore.  Some men actually had their name and home port engraved on the earring, so, in case of death, family could be contacted.




Poppy Flower Earrings with Ruby and Onyx Swarovski Crystals Handmade by Pamela of MagdaleneJewels




Over the course of centuries, earrings came into and went out of fashion.  During the Middle Ages, sometimes called the Dark Ages (c. 500 - 1300), poverty, superstition, plague and early death were very common and the wearing of all metal jewelry declined, except for the very wealthy.  Once the Renaissance period arrived (c. 1400 - 1688), jewelry began to be worn again by most people, athough because of hairstyles and hats that often covered the earrs, earrings weren't worn much.  During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1553-1603) and other European courts, elaborate hairstyles and clothing styles, some very high, ruffled collars precluded the wearing of long earrings, although earings were sometimes dangled near the ears hanging from the hair.  When women began wearing their hair pulled back in the late 1600, earrings were back!  Then in the early 1700, the fashion was large bonnets with wide ribbons - and earrings were gone again.  In the latter half of the 1700's and the early 1800's earrings were being worn again since the fashion style was bonnetless with an upswept hairstyle. 




Hot Fun Orange and Red Summer Dangle Earrings Handmade by Jacki of Christie Cottage




In the latter part of the 1800's and early part of the 1900's, Victorian style dictated that pierced ears were uncouth (as well as LOTS of other things!) and associated with heathens, the uneducated and ladies of the night.  Earrings fell out of favor again, even though Queen Victoria wore earrings that, to me, look like the pierced style.  Here's a link to a an article, highlighting Queen Victoria's small crown, but also showing two photos of her wearing earrings:  Queen Victoria.  Tell me what you think. 




Silver, Gold and/or Copper Treble G Clef Music Note Earrings Handmade by Connie of Thesingingbeader




Even with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, pierced ears were still frowned on.  The wearing of earrings (but not pierced earrings!) became fashionable again when clip-on earrings were invented in the 1920's and screwback earring were invented in the 1930's.  Both of these were viewed as being more sanitary and MUCH more proper.  They ruled the earring world until the 1970's where ear piercing once again gained in popularity.  And what amazing, wide ranging designs we can revel in!  Now, doesn't it seem odd when someone does NOT have pierced ears?


I hope you enjoy the rest of the earrings featured:




Vintage Swarovski Light Amethyst and Textured Stone Teardrop Earrings Handmade by LInda of VictorianStyleTreasures




Boho Red, Orange and Yellow Fan Chandelier Earrings Handmade by Catherine of Shadow Dog Designs




Shades of Blue Crystals and Gold Branch Dangle Earrings Handmade by Kathy of KatsAllThat




Powerful Triton Lampwork Dangle Earrings with Sterling Silver Handmade by Charlotte of Covergirlbeads




Long Curly KOA Hawaiian Exotic Wood Earrings Handmade by Roxanne of ExoticwoodJewelryAnd




Orange Lampwork Boho Dangle Earrings with Picasso Jasper Handmade by Julie and Harry of Blue Morning Expressions




White Swarovski Pearls Wedding Earrings with 22K Vermeil Gold Beadcaps Handmade by Pamela of MagdeleneJewelry




Purple Focal Bead Earrings on Gold or Silver Wires Handmade by Jacki of Christie Cottage




"Sing" Microphone Earrings with Lever Backs Handmade by Connoe of Thesingingbeader




Floral Enamel Earrings with Raspberry Lampwork Beads Handmade by LInda of VictorianStyleTreasures




Turquoise and Purple Moon and Star on Feathers Boho Earrings Handmade by Catherine of ShadowDogDesigns



I hope you enjoyed this short history of earrings - believe me, I could have written a LOT more.  I also hope you loved each and every one of these unique handmade earrings creations, showing such a wide variety of designs.  If you would like to make my day and the day of the talented artists featured, please leave a blog comment.  And any promotion you can do will be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!



My contact information:


Indiemade shop:  Shadow Dog Designs

Indiemade blog:  Shadow Dog Designs’ Blog

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On Fire for Handmade shop:  Shadow Dog Designs 

Facebook:  Catherine’s Personal Page

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Flickr:  Shadow Dog Designs' Photostream



Beautifully Unique Handmade Jewelry

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Love of Earrings Blog

I loved the very detailed history of Earrings thoughout the Centuries. Do you think Moses wore earrings???
Thank you for including my Earrings in your lovely Blog “For the Love of Earrings”.


Thanks for the blog post and interesting artcle.

I have previously tweeted and pinned all, but will promote again.



One more time, you did an excellent job narrating the history of the earrings. I really enjoyed it, I love history. By the way

about Queen Victoria, definitive she had her ears pierced.

I shared all those beautiful earrings on twitter and on the Pinterest board 2020-Handmade Shopping Guide.



Where can I buy the Native American earrings?

Click on the photo

Click on the photo and it will take you to the listing.

For The Love Of Earrings History

Enjoyed your informative article about the history of earrings. So glad they are all the rave now! Shared.

Thank you, Catherine!

This is such an interesting blog about the history of earrings! I enjoyed reading it, Catherine. I didn't know some of these facts, although, I did know that piercing ears in the '70s was popular. I remember my best friend pierced my ears at her apartment in 1975. I was allergic to the cheap earrings and had to get 14K gold or sterling silver. I don't have so much trouble now, thank goodness! I agree that Queen Victoria's earrings look to be pierced, I can see the hole in her earlobe. lol I have pinned each of these earrings and will be sharing the blog soon.

Fun earring facts!

I really enjoyed reading all of the fun facts about earrings. I checked out the pictures of Queen Victoria and I agree, they are definitely pierced earrings. I also used to wear screw-back earrings.....what torture devices they were! I did enjoy it though and appreciate the promotion you put together features our earrings. Will be promoting.


Enjoyed earring history.

I believe Queen Victoria always wore pierced earrings. I watched that PBS special

Tweeted and pinned items and post.

Thanks again

Shared Everywhere

I had to climb out of the rabbit hole I fell down when I followed the link to Queen Victoria, which lead to all queens, crowns, diamonds and more. Yes, she did wear pierced earrings! Wonderful post and shared all of these magnificent handmade earrings around the world a time or two. Thank you for the fun read, and all the extra promotions. Cheers to you and the desert dog from me and little Harry.

Thank you Catherine

Interesting blog Catherine as always. I have to agree with the others on Queen Victoria earrings, yes they are pierced.
Thank you for including my earrings. I will be sharing this great blog. Thank you !! Hope everyone is safe and staying cool.

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