During 3000 BC in the Middle East, pierced earrings first made an appearance and were indicative of the wearer’s association with a particular tribe, religion and even political affiliation. They also were worn to show a person’s level in the social strata of the community they lived in, as well as to cast shame and label inferior casts, especially of those who were taken in as slaves.
Around the second century AD, any kind of metal that could be fashioned into twists, flattened or even bent, were turned into original designs and even hoops. It is during this period that earrings also included the occasional gemstone.
In Europe, during the Middle Ages, ear bobs were considered high fashion, especially amongst the top layers of society, but was soon forgotten with the entrance of huge hats, tall wigs and the high collars, which of course, would have overshadowed any kind of jewelry that could other have adorned the earlobe. With new fashions taking center stage, earrings were considered a hindrance, as they would only have got tangled up in the wig or fabrics used. Once necklines changed, and hairstyles shifted to more subdued tones, earrings were back in fashion, especially amongst the Italians. Every well dressed lady considered a pair of earrings part of her outfit.
Bonnets came into the fashion scene a century afterwards, covering the sides of the head, which again stole the limelight from the earrings. In 1900, hair styles took on a new fashion, where the hair was piled on the top of the head, or brushed back into a chignon, which only made the jewelers’ business more lucrative. It is during this time that clip-on earrings came into being and were thought to be the more sanitary version of the pieces of jewelry.
Following this era, came the time of the film and modeling industries, where every woman wanted to look like her favorite movie star or model. This meant that earrings were a must. And thus, from this time onwards, earrings have grown in importance as well as design.