Earrings: A Decorative History

Throughout history, earrings have been one of the principal forms of jewelry. Earrings have moved in and out of fashion trends and have been used as a marker of societal standing since pre-biblical times. Even today, many jewelry-wearers feel that their outfit is not complete until they’ve donned a pair of earrings. Why do earrings have such an impact on fashion? The history of earrings is rich and tells us so much about how jewelry has been both a form of societal obligation as well as one of self-expression. 

Earliest History

Earrings have been popular for more than 7,000 years. In the old testament of the Bible, people are instructed to take out their gold earrings and melt them down. This dates back to as late as 8th century prophets. During these times, it was mostly men who would wear earrings, as they were the ones who held wealth and status. There have also been Persipolitan wall coverings discovered that reveal Persian men with earrings dating all the way back to 550-330 BCE.

Ancient Egyptians

Earrings continued to pop up through recorded history, including ancient Egypt. From what researchers have discovered, earrings were a popular choice amongst the wealthier, upper-class men, women, and children. In fact, the British Museum is home to a pair of earrings that date back to 1200-1186 BC. Tomb paintings depicting men and women wearing earrings date further back to 1550-1070 BC. There is also evidence of earrings in both ancient Rome and ancient Greece, though the status symbol of the wearers has varied drastically. 

Middle Ages

Throughout Europe, wearing earrings ebbed and flowed as a fashion trend. They were often worn by men in the upper class, but in the 13th-century earrings were eventually banned by the Catholic Church. They felt it was a sin to mark or puncture your body in any way. This led to a shift where earrings became popular amongst the lower class, including thieves and pirates who would wear golden earrings in case their body washed ashore and they needed a proper burial. 


As time went on, earrings started making a come-back, regardless of the Church’s stance. In many instances, they were used to represent a person’s life. For example, if a man had both ears pierced, it was a sign that he was the last of his bloodline. This would excuse him from war so that the family name was not at risk of being lost forever. 

Recent History

In our more recent history, the popularity of earrings again varied, this time in accordance with women's fashion trends. It really wasn’t until the 1950s in America that the popularity of earrings really boomed. Now, earrings continue to be a popular fashion trend for both men and women. In fact, earrings are so popular, that many decide to sport multiple studs in their earlobes, and even onto the cartilage of the ear and beyond. 

Earrings have been around since recorded history and they continue to be one of the most popular jewelry choices. Earrings have been worn by men, women, and children. They have represented social class, and provided a means of self-expression Today, no matter what the occasion, there is always a perfect set of earrings to go with it. 

Visit Kobelli for a wide variety of earrings and jewelry to match your style - no matter what era you come from. 

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