Earrings: A Brief History

November 21, 2021

Earrings: A Brief History

What was the first piece of jewelry you wore? If you answered earrings, you’re definitely not alone. Although we may think of ear piercings as feminine, it’s a practice that dates back several centuries and was equally popular among both men and women.

In 1991, a couple hiking through the Tyrolean Alps discovered a mummified body protruding from the melting ice. He quickly became known as Ötzi the Iceman as he was found in the mountains bordering the Ötztal valley in Austria. After careful analysis of his remains and the belongings scattered around him, scientists found Ötzi to be from the Copper Age, dating back more than 5000 years. And a fascinating and telling sign of bodily rituals of the time was observed through his tattoos and approximately 11mm gauge ear piercings.

It’s likely that Ötzi’s ‘earrings’ were intended to repel evil spirits necessary to safeguard him along his undoubtedly difficult journey—a belief held by many, across different cultures and periods in time, that still holds strong today.

But this particular adornment has had varied uses and connotations throughout history. Ancient Egyptians saw them as a sign of wealth and societal class, Native Americans often pierced the earrings of adolescents as a rite-of-passage into adulthood, and at one point, Ancient Roman slaves—a predominantly male population—were marked by ear piercings.

Today, we may not wear earrings for all the same reasons our ancestors did, though the styles that we choose are likely inspired by our culture and beliefs, in addition to our personal fashion preferences.

Believing that every person deserves to adorn themselves with jewelry that highlights their distinct beauty, Manjusha Jewels’ designer, Joey, incorporates a variety of elements into her earring designs. From ancient to modern, and even incorporating her own Indian culture, her mission is always to offer her clients an expansive, yet unique collection that will stand the test of time.


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