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Where Did Earrings Originate?

3 min read

Where Did Earrings Originate? - Le Gem Nouveau

Where Did Earrings Originate?

The history of earrings goes back over 7,000 years. It is believed that earrings were originally worn predominantly by males and that they originated in ancient Asia.


Over the years, different cultures have worn earrings to represent different things. For example, the ancient Egyptians wore them to symbolize wealth, class and success. However, the ancient Romans tended to only wear earrings if they were slaves. In Greece, meanwhile, earrings were worn by prostitutes. In short, earrings have represented a lot of different meanings to different people over the years.

Vine-Style Earrings

Modern designs offer huge variety, but many of them have been inspired by the generations of earring-wearers before them. For example, Vine-Style Earrings are reminiscent of past Egyptian fashion and made with high-quality 14k gold-fill ear wire.


In the Middle Ages, the popularity of men wearing earrings began to change. In the 13th century, wearing earrings was banned by the Catholic Church. They believed that people shouldn’t alter their body in any way, so it was seen as a sin to have an ear piercing. It was around this time that earrings became popular with pirates, criminals and the lower classes, so earrings began to represent different groups in society.


In addition to denoting status, earrings were also worn to demonstrate various events in a person's life or their positions within a family. For example, if a boy had pierced ears, this was thought to represent a child whose father had been killed. If a boy wore an earring in the right ear only, this could mean they were the only boy in the family. If a man wore earrings in both ears, this was a way of letting people know that he was the last in his family’s line and therefore should not go to war because if he died, the family name would be lost forever. If men did choose to wear an earring during this time, they tended to opt for a single small stud.

More recently, ear piercings were used as a way for a man to identify himself as gay, with a right ear piercing symbolizing a homosexual and a left ear piercing representing a heterosexual. However, this tradition has since been challenged and is no longer considered relevant.

Earrings on Women

As earrings worn by men became less popular, their popularity with women began to grow. Women started wearing them to enhance their features and natural beauty and believed long, dangly earrings made their face appear longer. For example, the Textured Marquise Drop Earrings in 14k Yellow Gold, feature a long delicate chain with a petal-shaped gold pendant.

Textured Marquise Drop Earrings in 14k Yellow Gold


Today, earrings have evolved and are worn by men and women in America, predominantly for fashion purposes. Body piercings have also developed into a huge market, with people having piercings all over the body, including in intimate areas. Cartilage piercings, which are higher up in the ear, are also popular, as are piercings in and around other areas of the ear.

Earring Styles

Earrings are usually made of precious metal, but they can also be made out of glass, bone, plastic and precious stones. The Janaki Amethyst Earrings feature individual cuts and sizes of stones, making each pair unique in design. The natural color makes these earrings really stand out against the crowd and catch the light beautifully.

The Janaki Amethyst Earrings

Alternatively, the Rainbow Tassel Boho Earrings are perfect for anyone wanting a bohemian look, attending an outdoor music festival, or simply looking to embrace colors and celebrate life.

Traditional designs of earrings include large hoops, often with pendants attached, and there is evidence of this from carvings and ancient art that has been discovered over the years by archaeologists.

19th Century

By the 1960s, ear piercing was very fashionable, and teenage girls would often hold "ear piercing parties" where they pierced each other's ears using a needle. Fortunately, this practice is much less popular today and that particular phase didn’t last too long as physicians started to offer ear piercing as a service, which was swiftly followed by large department stores.

Earrings are one of the most popular items of jewelry sold in the industry today and are worn by men and women all over the world. A person’s choice of earring can be very telling. Whether it’s bold and colorful or small and dainty, it can offer clues into the wearer’s personality. Earrings are also wonderful gifts for people who have pierced ears thanks to the large variety available and their broad price range.

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