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The Amazingly Long History of Earrings

Earrings have been around for centuries. Some of the handcrafted earrings that have been found in the ancient graves of royal Egyptians and Babylonians are more than 5000 years old. They used to be seen as a sign of wealth. Only the richest people had enough gold or precious stones to wear fashion jewelry.

handmade earrings

It’s thought that earrings first came out of the Middle East. Handmade jewelry and earrings were a way to show a person’s religion, political leaning, and heritage. There were also many superstitions that surrounded the idea of wearing them.

It definitely wasn’t all about fashion jewelry. Some cultures believed that evil spirits could enter your body through any opening so they used special stones and metal to create handcrafted jewelry that would ward them away. Sailors used to wear a gold earring after they crossed the equator. It was a symbol of their accomplishment and also was said to be a way for them to pay for a burial if they died at sea.

Falling In and Out of Fashion

Earrings have gone in and out of fashion throughout history. During the Renaissance period, big hair was all the rage. Women covered their ears completely with hair and wigs so they didn’t bother with earrings. Any part that was not covered by their hair was shielded by the huge collars popular in those days. Earrings had a comeback again during the 1600s, when women started pulling their hair back again.

handmade earrings

Bonnets and hats became popular during the 1700s so once again earrings fell out of vogue. Decades later, during the Victorian era, earring became trendy again. Jewelers were in their heyday during this time because women loved pulling their hair back, which showcased their necks and ears. The only problem was that piercing suddenly became frowned upon.

People decided they still liked the look of earrings and screw-on varieties were invented in the 1930s. Screw-on and clip-on types took over the jewelry landscape for the first half of the twentieth century. Slowly over the century, people began to see piercing as hygienic and acceptable again.  During the 1970s, ear piercing became the norm again and handcrafted jewelry became extremely popular. Today most handmade earrings are still sold for pierced ears along with a few options for the magnetic and clip-on varieties.

Modern Variations

For several years it’s been fashionable to pierce all over the ear. There are more than a dozen types of common piercings!

  • Helix/Rim: A piercing for a single earring in the upper ear cartilage
  • Scaffold/Industrial: Two piercings at the top of the top of the ear for a barbell earring
  • Rook: The most painful ear piercing! Done in the middle of your ear in the inner cartridge
  • Daith: A piercing right where your inner cartilage meets your face
  • Snug: A piercing in the inner cartilage on the lower part of the outer rim
  • Conch: There is an inner and an outer version and both are below the fold in your ear.

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