The most simple definition of earrings can be: the ornaments decorating the ears. Throughout history they have been one of the most principal forms of jewelry. The term generally refers to the ornaments that are worn and are attached to the earlobes, although around the late 20th century the concept of earrings expanded and is now described as a piece of jewelry that is worn on the other parts of ears, such as ear cuffs.
Traditionally in many cultures and contexts, earrings were worn as symbols of cultural or tribal identity, as markers of age, marital status or rank. They were believed to possess protective or medicinal powers. Even though the primary function of earrings has always been a decorative one, they have served other purposes as well. As earrings are so prominently placed amidst the face, costume and the coiffure, they, perhaps, have gone through changes more than any other element or pieces of jewelry. Earrings have been highly responsive to the changes in fashion, they have correspondingly increased and decreased in size and prominence. They are often described as of instrumental value as they play a major part in balancing and tying together a person’s desired fashionable appearance.
The Ancient World Of Earrings
In the ancient times, earrings were one of the most popular forms of jewelry. The archaeological evidence proves that the earliest of earrings worn by mankind was the crescent-shaped gold hoops which were typically worn by Sumerian women around 2500 B.C.E. By 1000 B.C.E, the tapered hoops which are also known as boat-shaped earrings commonly crafted in gold but also of silver and bronze gained popularity and had spread throughout the Aegean World and the Western Asia. In Crete and Cyprus, the earrings were embellished with clusters of beads, twisted gold wires and thin sheets of gold which were stamped and had a pendant-like form.
In Egypt, earrings were later introduced around 1500 B.C.E. and became a common accessory worn by both men and women likewise. Many Egyptians wore earrings which were in the shape of thick, mushroom-shaped studs or plugs, which required an enlarged hole that was achieved deliberately by stretching the earlobes. These earrings were crafted in gold, with a decorated front surface or of more inexpensive materials such as coloured glass or carved jasper. Ear studs that consisted of two capped tubes that were screwed together were often worn alone but some had elaborate pendant hangings on them. These hangings were mostly of gold cornflowers, or falcons with flexible tail feathers inlaid with glass or other gemstones.
In the first millennium B.C.E, the Greeks and Etruscan goldsmiths brought new artistry and designs to earrings, which were valued as both an ornament and a sign of wealth and status. There were many variations that were introduced by the hoop earrings that we still wear today that were very much inspired by them. The Etruscan box-type earrings which encased the earlobe had a wide horizontal cylindrical design. The disk earrings had pendant hangings which were in the form of amphorae (ancient Greek jars), figures of Eros and were decorated with beads and chains. Another popular form of earrings which were twisted gold hoops were joined around 330 B.C.E., all of these earrings were mainly stamped out from thin sheets of gold and were then decorated with scrolls, flowers, gemstones, glass which made them fairly light in weight but an extremely rich appearance.
The 19th And The 20th Century
Fast forward to the neoclassical era there were loads of designs and patterns that came and went. In the early 1810s and 1820s, the trend of lighter and more delicate jewelry continued. The jewelry designers during this period took a lot of inspiration from the ancient world and revived the historical styles, like the elaborate gothic tracery and scroll-work. As hairstyles during this time became more elaborate, the earrings also gained prominence, with small tops to long drops reaching nearly to the shoulders!
In spite of the size differences, these earrings were light in weight owing to the embossing technique used by the artisans of that time. Long earrings with carved gemstones and gold filigree were also popular. The concept of detachable drops became famous as it allowed the tops to be worn alone.
By the 1900s, earrings not only declined in size but they also lost importance. Many women stopped wearing them altogether as pierced ears were seen as something not quite ‘respectable’. In the United States, the immigrant women especially who were Latin American and African American, wore earrings to distinguish themselves from others. In spite of the negative image, small stud earrings were still in fashion. The fake clip-ons were also introduced around this time so that the women who did not wish to get their ears pierced permanently could wear them. Around 1908, drop earrings were again revived but were much smaller in size. They had articulated drops of smaller gemstones like diamonds, pearls or other colorful stones that matched the color of their dresses.
Since in the early 1990s, simple and elegant earrings began to succeed the shiny and gaudy designs, this trend kept on going till the 1980s. The monochromatic and minimalist moods of fashion are stil, in trend. At the same, the versatile clothes that graced the markets inspired women to use elaborate and unusual designs that made a statement. While there have been no specific dominant trends since the 1990s, the historical revivals have still been one of the important trends. The popularity of glamorous drops and chandelier earrings which are inspired from the grandiose of the 18th and 19th centuries are still in the fashion game.
Earrings now have largely become a popular form of self-expression and how they are worn along with any ensemble is also inclined towards the matter of personal choice. But picking the right pair of earrings is also dependent on other factors like your mood, your outfit, or the event you have chosen to attend. Earrings have the power to transform your look, to put into simple words they possess the ability to make and break your look.
Let’s take a look at some of the designs that are ruling this year which are bound to make you look hot and turn heads at the same time.
- Hoop Earrings
Hoops earrings have a great deal of cultural significance, and are probably the first kind of earrings that was invented by mankind. Earrings in this category vary in shapes and sizes but they sort of have a signature design. You can find all sorts of different looks with varying diameters, materials and styles. From cute miniature huggie hoops to layered hoops to gemstone or diamond studded hoops, they are one of the most chic types of earrings that compliment all your styles. Recently hoops have been seen gracing the ramps of designer brands like Versace, Moschino. to the red carpet looks of Selena Gomez, Margot Robbie, etc. So get yourself a pair of hoops and we assure it won’t be the last one!
- Threader Earrings
Threader earrings are considered to be the ultra chic designs as they add tons of elegance to your looks. They generally come with an ear post at one end which you thread through or pull through your pierced hole, so the fine chain slides through your ear. They are super comfortable to wear as the chains are not thicker and usually light in weight. Threader earrings have seen a major surge in their popularity partly due their celeb following. They are brilliantly versatile and can be paired with any outfit of your likes. Threader earrings are a great accessory for those who have multiple piercings in their ears, as these tend to compliment the other smaller earrings without overwhelming them.
- Gemstone Earrings
In recent times, the gemstone laid earrings have gained quite the popularity. They come in a variety colors and designs. More and more designer houses have been seen experimenting with these gems and this has caused quite a stir in the fashion industry. Women these days are no more inclined to try simple designs of gold and silver, they want glamor, and gemstone earrings are doing just the same. From simple opal studs to extravagant colorful designs, they are all so mesmerizing that we assure you will lose your heart!
- Cluster Earrings
Cluster earrings are similar to stud earrings in the way they fasten to your ear; they differ on the exterior side in that they feature a number of precious stones in a single enchanting composition. The stones used can vary in shape, size and colour, and they can even include decorative pattern elements or dangling parts.
Although cluster earrings look similar to stud earrings in the way they fasten to your ears, they hugely differ in their looks. Unlike stud earrings they feature a number of precious stones in a zigzag pattern or arranged in some enchanting composition. The gemstones used usually vary in shape, size, color and they often include decorative elements or dangling parts.