Thursday, November 6, 2014

Earrings Evolution

Ear piercing is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of body modification.   Earrings have been worn for thousands of years, with finds dating back to around 3000 BC, and have adorned the ears for reasons other than simple decoration.    Ancient Mesopotamians, Greeks and Romans believed that earrings would guard against danger and prevent evil spirits entering the body, and in many cultures the size of the earrings demonstrated wealth and social status. Historical Hindu, Buddhist and Chinese sculptures depict certain important royal figures with stretched, elongated earlobes to symbolize their greatness and wisdom.

Aphrodite fresco in Pompeii depicting goddess with earrings

 Greek and Roman inspirations

However, not all heavy earrings were worn through the lobe; they were sometimes worn in the hair or on headdresses, such as the jade ear flares worn in Central American around AD 600-1000.  They were also sometimes worn around the ears and contemporary examples of this method include the beautifully sculptured ear ornaments by Apinya Oo Boonprakob, made in oxidized silver and 24ct gold, which elegantly encircle the ears, and the sculptured ice piece by Naomi Filmer. Kahlo self portrait with ivory earrings
In Western society today the wearing of earrings is increasingly common among men.  In the 1970s the trend was influenced by the punk movement, while the fashion is now upheld by male music performers and professional sportsmen.    However, it is evidently not just a recent craze. Paintings of William Shakespeare show him wearing an earring, and the carved images of soldiers on the palace walls in Persepolis, ancient Persia, are one of the earliest indications of men sporting such adornments.  In the 1920s, earrings were also popular with sailors, who superstitiously believed that the wearing of one from a pair, with the other worn by their sweetheart, would ensure their safe return and reunion.
 Modern punkman earring
Elizabethan man with pearl drop earrings

The ears are vital for our everyday existence: they aid communication and play a critical role in the process of balance and movement. So it is not surprising that we choose to draw attention to them through jewelry, and wish to enhance and adorn them with beautiful pieces.


Contemporary earrings are still worn to signify status and beauty and are most commonly worn to enhance and frame the face.  This positioning makes them highly visible and, if hanging from the lobe, will move with the wearer catching the light and coming to life.  The versatility of the earring allows a broad range of design and scale, from the small to the exaggerated length of pieces which extend beyond the ears...


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