Earrings: A Fashion That's Endured For Millennia!
Woman of Ancient Greece Wearing Hoop Earrings, Art Circa 1600BCE
The wearing of earrings is one of the oldest known forms of body decoration, possibly because the lobe is one of the easiest and most visible places to pierce. It was extremely popular in early Eastern cultures where there are known examples of pierced lobes and earrings dating back at least 5000 years, with statues from ancient civilisations and even Egyptian mummies sporting pierced lobes and ear jewellery. It's thought that thousands of years ago earrings may have been worn by both men and women to show your social status (wealthy or slave), your profession, or even to which tribe or warrior group you belonged.
Bust of a Sasanian King (Persia/Iran), c 350AD
But the fashion for ear decoration has faded in and out of favour over the years for a number of reasons; for instance when fashions changed over the centuries to long hair or wigs worn around the face, or high elaborate (louse catching!) collars, or bonnets that fastened under the chin with a ribbon, then earrings were less frequently worn because they were obscured or could become tangled in clothing. Thankfully, though, earrings never truly went out of style, enjoying many fashion revivals!
Vemeer's Girl With A Pearl Earring, c1665
Sometimes the fashion for earrings was more prevalent amongst men, and sometimes amongst women, and at other times, like nowadays, amongst both genders equally. The problem was that although there were many jewellers making earrings, piercing ears was pretty much a DIY project. It was only in late Victorian times that some physicians began to offer sterile ear piercing as part of their service, but for many it was still a case of taking the plunge yourself or getting a trusted friend to do it. The genteel Victorian ladies may even have considered ear piercing tribal and uncivilised, leading to a decline in the popularity of 'poking holes in oneself'. To get around this unsanitary and painful process, earrings for non-pierced ears made their debut with screw back earrings in 1894. In 1934 there was a breakthrough when paddle-back clip-on earrings were first patented, and clip-on earrings remained en vogue for women for the next four decades. Further advances combined the two to give us the most adjustable and convenient earrings: the clip on earring with screw adjuster!
Jean Harlow, Movie Star, 1930s
Piercing once again gained popularity in the 1970s with the advent of piercing parties, where groups of friends gathered to pierce each other's ears. Numbing the lobe with an ice cube, a needle would be pushed through the lobe (often into a potato half at the back to catch it!) and an earring immediately inserted. There's a famous scene in the movie Grease where Olivia Newton-John's character, Sandy Olsson, has her ears pierced at a sleepover.
Vintage Glamour Clip On Earrings, available at here Alyssum Jewellery
For some people wearing pierced ears isn't an option so it's great that there are still places that stock a fantastic range of clip-on earrings, like Alyssum Jewellery! We always try to stock as big a variety as possible with earrings suitable for brides, earrings available in both clip-on or post style for bridal parties, fun everyday and office wear clip-ons, and earrings for glamorous party nights out. As well as our stylish modern clip-on earrings, we also like to bring you genuine vintage earrings where possible from the 1930s-1970s heyday of clip-on earrings and screw back earrings. As far as we're concerned there'll always be a place for clip-on earrings in modern fashion!
Next week: "Cubic Zirconia (CZ) versus Diamond, how do they compare?" Find out what makes Cubic Zirconia the best diamond simulant on the market, and the differences and similarities between the two gemstones.