Origin and tradition of earrings
Earrings were used by ancient populations as symbol of richness, but they also spread among nomad tribes of several origins. In the past, earrings were considered good luck charms, or worn for practical purposes or as ornaments. Presently, the great value of earrings lays in their beauty as well as in their tradition.
Jewelry, enhanced with precious gems and materials, has always had an ornamental function, fascinating for its value and capacity to valorize each look. However, jewels’ beauty depends also on their origin and the tradition that led them to be precious. Even if the ring seems to be the “diamond point” of jewelry sector, there is a kind of jewel that has very ancient and fascinating origins: the loved and desired earrings.
Earrings are ornaments used by the all populations and they originated in the Bronze Age. Even if earrings presently are mainly for women, this jewel spread in Egypt as male ornament, consisting of a plate with chains. It was very valued and could symbolize an high social status. Since the Hellenic period, earrings started to attract a wider and less rich public, as they became usual ornaments for nomad tribes.
Since the early Middle Ages, earrings acquired more value, with set gems or teardrop pearls, and started to be considered properly as female jewels. The set gemstones were manly coloured gems, while diamonds started to be mounted in earrings around the end of the XVIII century, when diamond earrings became a must, destined to be such forever.
At the same time, pendant earring was the most appreciated model since the Renaissance and, presently, it is surely loved and desired to enhance elegant looks, for important occasions. However, new smaller models and light spots have been added to more showy earrings, with an innovative touch of everyday glamour.
Love for earrings is not only a matter of fashion, but it is also linked to symbols and special meanings. It is known that in several Central African tribes, women like wearing big earrings, similar to plug earrings, as symbols of seduction, sexuality and femininity. Moreover, it is believed that earrings can protect young girls against evil and in Mali, for example, mothers usually put eighteen earrings in the ears of their daughters before their marriage, to fight possible naughtiness.
However, it is known that earrings are not only female ornaments, but also male ones. Many men wear an earring, in metal or with little gems, but it is not just a matter of oddness or newness, as this tradition has ancient origins.
At the age of pharaohs earring was a male jewel and this custom used to be popular also for the following years, passing through the XVI Century and till nowadays, even with different conceptions. While presently men wear earrings as symbol of special and peculiar styles, in the past this male ornament had deep meanings and could symbolize also love. In a famous portrait of William Shakespeare, the writer has an earring in his left ear and, at that time, wearing only one earring could represent a good luck charm, protecting the love between a woman and a man owning the same earrings.
Nobles and poets were not the only men who used to wear earrings. More eccentric and legendary characters used to have earrings, shaping the modern fashion’s ideas. Sailors, for example, wore an earring as they believed that piercing the eras could improve their sight, helping them to become watch –persons. Also legendary pirates liked earrings, manly for practical uses: in fact, considering the risk of dying during their adventures, pirates considered earrings as suitable rewards for who would have buried them.
Therefore, earrings wear born in the ancient time and they evolved, from symbols of richness to tribal costume. They have fascinated every women as feminine icons, but also men, both nobles, artists and pirates. Pendant, teardrop or small earrings, despite of the model they are destined to be loved and desired ornaments that, after having traveled the seven seas, will enhance our days with glamour and elegance.