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Earrings Have Endured Through Centuries

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By : Ann Knapp    99 or more times read
Submitted 0000-00-00 00:00:00
One of the oldest forms of body modification, the piercing of the ears has been a custom observed by nearly every culture around the world. For centuries, earrings have served to indicate a variety of things, including status within society, a particular vocation, or just simply an adornment.

Some of the oldest evidences of the practice of wearing earrings were discovered by archaeologists who uncovered royal graves in Iraq which date to around 2,500 B.C. On the surviving palace walls of Persopolis in ancient Persia, carved images have also been found showing soldiers from various parts of the Persian Empire wearing an earring. King Tut also wore hoop earrings and earplugs, which were highly popular in ancient Egypt.

For sailors, a pieced earlobe signified the wearer had sailed around the world or crossed the equator. Sailors who had survived a sinking ship could be seen wearing an earring in their left ear. Commonly held among sailors was the belief that in the event of a shipwreck, if their body washed up on shore the person who found them would take the earring as payment for a Christian burial. As a result, many sailors invested in expensive gold earrings.

Women of means living during the Roman Empire wore earrings to indicate their wealth status. Over time, gems, such as sapphires, emeralds and aquamarines were used in earring ornamentation. As poverty prevailed during the Dark Ages, the use of metal jewelry was in sharp decline, and during the Byzantine period earrings were replaced with other forms of ornamentation. Elaborate hairstyles and headdresses during the Middle Ages made the use of earrings nearly non-existent.

In the 16th century Italy, high collars began disappearing and hair was worn up and away from the face, giving room for the resurgence of earrings. It took another 100 years for the high-collar fad in England and France to pass before earrings were in fashion again. In the mid-1600s, the girandole earring design made its first appearance along the Mediterranean. Laden with precious and semi-precious gems, this lavish earring style remained popular for a couple centuries. Because the earrings could be so heavy, pieces of the earring could be removed depending upon the preference of the wearer. The sheer weight of the earrings was known to cause elongated ear lobes.

Later, the girandole earring design was replaced by the pendeloque design, which was longer and lighter than their predecessor. These earrings served as a perfect balance for the high hairdos being worn at the time.

While jewelry designers began adding gems to earrings in the 1800s, changes in hairstyles made wearing earrings difficult. The new styles involved wearing the hair gathered in a knot at the nape of the neck, hiding earrings from sight. The wearing of bonnets made the wearing of earrings difficult as well.

The creation of screw-back earrings in the early 20th century, made ear piercing seem barbaric to some circles of women. Free of piercing, women wore screw-back earrings with relish, especially as they began wearing their hair in short bobs during the 1920s. Once again, hairstyle dictated the importance of earrings. Earrings were once again revolutionized with the creation of the clip-on. Once again, earrings were an accessory option for women who eschewed ear piercing.

Passing the more conservative period of the 1950s where earring designs became lighter and uncomplicated, the 1960s and 1970s produced flamboyant, textured and colorful earring designs. With the "everything goes" style of the day, women began piercing again, as well as buying earrings for any occasion.

Today's earrings include an endless array of styles. Piercings can include singular holes in each ear, or multiple. The ethnic practice of plugs and other ethnic jewelry are making their mark in Western style and trends. Today, all manner of materials and designs are used in the creation of earrings. Hoops, dangling and pendant styles are especially popular. It's hard to imagine earrings ever falling out of style again. But even if they do, it's good to know that as with everything, the trend will never be gone forever.
Author Resource:- Lewis Jewelers is proud to carry the full line of Pandora Jewelry. Pandora charms, Pandora bracelets and Pandora beads are only a part of the collection. For more information, Lewis Jewelers, 2000 West Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103, 877-88-LEWIS or visit the website.
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