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A Brief History of Earrings

Posted on April 01 2021

A Brief History of Earrings

Earrings and the practice of piercing ears are both incredibly ancient.

Earrings originated in Asia. They have been found in archeological digs dating back 7000 years. And interestingly enough, it seems that men predominantly wore earrings. In the form of wall carvings, this archeological evidence suggests that Persian men wore earrings in Persepolis, which was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550 – 330 BCE).

In the Exodus story (dating around 1440 BCE), Aaron commands the Israelites to “take off the gold earrings that your wives, sons, and daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” He then fashions them into a golden calf. But that is another story for another time…

Ancient Egyptians, both men and women, wore earrings to signify their wealth or their higher class. In ancient Rome, plain, hoop-style earrings were worn only by slaves, and in ancient Greece by prostitutes. However, in Rome and Greece, wealthy women would wear earrings set with pearls and other expensive stones to symbolize their value or position in society.

Earrings have been in and out of fashion during the centuries. In the Middle Ages and throughout the Renaissance, nobles wore them as displays of wealth. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, male earrings alternated between being popular and out of fashion. However, in the 13th Century, the Catholic Church banned the piercing of ears stating that people cannot alter their bodies created in the image of God. It was then that earrings became popular amongst thieves, pirates, and the lower class. 

During the Renaissance, young boys of single mothers (whose husband had been killed) would have pierced ears, and for the only boy in a family, just the right ear would be pierced. A man who wore earrings on both ears was the last of his family line and would not be allowed to participate in war, fearing that his family name would disappear forever.

Here’s a fun(ny) fact: Sailors (think more, pirates) often wore earrings made of gold in order to pay for a Christian burial (in case his body washed ashore after a shipwreck). 

In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, earrings came in and out of fashion following women’s clothing styles. For example, in the 18th Century, women wore large hats that covered their ears, and thus, they did not wear earrings. However, in the 19th Century, when women began wearing their hair pulled up, earrings came back into fashion. During the Victorian time of the later 19th Century, piercing fell under the umbrella of vulgar practices.

Ear piercing in the United States didn’t become “every day” fashionable until the 1950s. For the first half of the 20th Century, earrings were considered uncouth, although the clip-on variety was more acceptable. 

Today, women choose to wear different types of earrings to complement their face and matching outfit choices. For example, long earrings tend to elongate the face and neck, whereas earrings that feature geometric shapes tend to sharpen the features. Young boys often choose to pierce one ear and sometimes both, usually opting for a small stud. Today, body piercings are hugely popular amongst men and women as well. But we will leave the history and story of piercings for some other blog 😊.s

We have a 60% off earring sale on selected items. This sale will continue until the end of April. Check out our earrings online at Or come by The Shop on Thursday and Fridays from 11-6. If you need to go another day or time, email or text me, and I will be happy to meet you.



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