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Earrings have long been part of human culture and various forms of "ear art" are found in almost every civilization. Some are a bit different than ours today, but we have been accenting our ears for centuries. Silver and gold are the metals of choice, but depending on price and purpose, you can find them made out of other metals and even plastic, as well as beads and glass. Accessorize your wardrobe with many types and sizes of earrings, and you can change your look every day. Browse our categories and find your style.

A Brief History of Earrings:

The earliest pair of earrings were found in a grave dating back to 2500 BCE in the city of Sumerian, Ur (Iraq); the biblical home of Abraham. Mummified bodies wearing earrings have also been discovered. The functions of earrings vary, from Asia to Europe and that doesn’t even include the historical timeline. Types of earrings have been influenced by social status, culture, religion, environment, and tools and types of materials available. The overall and most popular purpose of jewelry was for fashion. It was not uncommon for earrings to made out of beads, wood, bones, metal, plastic glass, and precious stone. Diamond earrings have only become available to the general public within the last 150 years and were primarily worn only by royalty.

Why Earrings Were Worn

Religion: Mentioned earlier on in the bible, Genesis 35:4 Jacob, later known as Israel, buried the idols and slavery earrings worn by members of his household under the tree near Shechem. He did this because earrings were symbolic of slavery and obedience unto another master (whom was not god). The bible also states that slaves who choose to wear earrings didn’t wish to be freed, Deuteronomy 15:12. In Exodus 32, the symbolic golden calf is made out of melted earrings.

Status: Earrings were used to establish both high and low societal status; slaves wore earrings to make it easier for other people to identify them as inferior and shamed. Women wore elaborate earrings to represent their high or royal status.

Tradition: Sailors often donned earrings in case of death by sea. If their bodies were to wash up on shore, the earrings would pay for a proper Christian burial.

Earrings Throughout the World

Asia: Earrings first appeared as hoop and pendant earrings around 3,000 B.C. Wearing earrings were a cultural tradition to Ainu men and women, the indigenous people of Japan dating around 1200 AD. India used earrings for religious ceremonies. Almost all girls and some boys would have their ears pierced. Laos, Nepal, Sri Lank, and other Southeast Asian countries also practiced this kind of ceremony. It is considered disrespectful to have more than one piercing per ear in Indian culture. The Indus Valley people were one of first groups of people to make jewelry. Diamonds were first mined here, in India.

Europe: In 16th century Europe it was more common for men ‘gentlemen of courage’ to wear fashion earrings, than it was for women. But it was also popular for men to wear high heels, boy have times changed. The prominent reason earrings not being worn by women is that a lot of fashion styles in clothing tended to obscure their ears. Around the 18th and 19th century, the process of jewelry making improved

Rome: In early Italy, Romans worked with crude gold to make earrings. The Renaissance: Napoleon Bonaparte, following his induction as the crowned Emperor of the French in 1805, encouraged and revived wearing fashionable jewelry.

North America: The Tlingit of the Pacific Northwest American coast used earrings to show the status of wealth and nobility. Native Americans wore gemstone earrings adorned with turquoise stones, an abundant stone at the time. Shortly following World War I, clip-on earrings became a popular fashion accessory. More recently, Mr. T. was an example of a celebrity wearing earrings in both lobes.

South America: Aztec craftsmen dedicated their lives to the art of jewelry. Aztecs themselves were heavily influenced by religion, so their earrings tended towards more symbolic. South America had an abundance of materials available to the Aztecs. Both gold and silver were popular elements used in the creation of earrings.