Quick HistoryAlmost universally, ancient civilizations from Sumeria to Cyprus utilized earrings as a way to promote wealth, class, fashion and status. Frescoes left behind by the Minoan civilization from around 1800 BCE show that hoop earrings were regularly worn on the South Aegean island of Santorini, now part of Greece. Ancient Egyptians, including pharaohs and their cats, also wore designs made out of gold and gemstones including turquoise, lapis lazuli and jasper. Much like earring styles, necklace styles have varied throughout time.
From stud earring to diamond earring types, join us on a journey through the history of earrings and explore the modern adaptations of this long-standing tradition of ear decor.
Hoop earrings are almost as old as human civilization itself. They made their debut when Sumerian women wore gold hoop earrings around 2500 BCE. Beloved by everyone from pirates and aristocrats, hoops have symbolized empowerment and independence since the time of ancient Egyptian queens like Cleopatra and Nefertiti. Interested in more ancient jewelry styles? Explore the history of the necklace and see the ancient styles that have inspired countless modern trends.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, African, African-American and Latina women have championed the symbolism of the hoop earring as a sign of defiance and bravery.
As Western societies repeatedly look back to ancient styles and rituals, such as the popularity of Greek styles during the Enlightenment era, hoops ebb and flow in and out of fashion. For many women, especially in the modern age, hoop earrings are considered more than an accessory but rather, a symbol of culture, ancestry and strength.
Dangle EarringsMuch like their counterparts, dangle earrings also have a unique history of their own. In her acclaimed book, Bejewelled: Men And Jewellery In Tudor And Jacobean England, Natasha Awais-Dean writes:
MaterialsWhen it comes to learning about the different types of earrings, the materials used to craft these earrings are almost as diverse as the cultures that have utilized them. From a variety of fine metals to a plethora of beautiful gemstone colors, the possibilities are endless.
Classic MetalsGold, silver and platinum are all used in classic fashions throughout the world. These simple gold earrings, for example, show a contemporary take on a ancient form; the earrings' softly rounded curves lend modernity and visual interest to the design. Designers like David Webb, Tambetti and Henry Dunay specialize in gold-only jewelry that is both simple and sophisticated.
All jewels are rare in some regard as the geological conditions required for their creation are nothing short of miraculous. However, certain gemstones are highly prized among jewelry firms for their distinctive unique qualities. Designers often choose to set their most precious gems in earrings because they are certain to be seen.
These fancy colored diamond earrings are an example of a natural phenomena that is showcased in some of the most beautiful earrings in the world. Due to the presence of boron in the stone, natural blue diamonds are second only to red diamonds in terms of rarity. Just as rare, though not as popularized as blue or pink, green diamonds are extremely scarce as well. They are the result of a rare phenomenon that exposes the diamond to radiation deep within the earth over the course of millions of years.
Other rare stones such as sapphires, rubies, emeralds, aquamarines and paraibas are all coveted stones seen in the finest antique jewels and utilized by modern jewelry makers.
Classic StonesFlaunted by celebrities, coveted by ancient cultures and worn as a ubiquitous symbol of commitment, legendary white diamond are an ever-popular choice for those in the market for antique jewelry. From antique necklaces to rings to studs and beyond, the closer a natural diamond comes to being classified as "colorless," the more expensive it is.
For a softer look, classic pearl earrings have remained a staple for centuries. Different types of pearls display a wide range of hues from lustrous and milky white to rare and romantic rose tones. Farmed from the large French Polynesian Black-Lip pearl oyster, the Tahitian pearl earrings below display a coveted moody deep hue, reflecting the silvery luster for which Tahitian pearls are celebrated.