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Earrings: the hidden meanings

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Ear piercing is one of the oldest known forms of body modification, with artistic and written references from cultures around the world dating back to early history. No one knows for sure as to when the first earring was worn. However, it is indicated that earrings have been in existence at least four to five thousand years. The history of the earring illustrates its evolution from culture to culture over the centuries and being other than decorative. It identified the wearer to their class structure, religion, or if they were a warrior.

At Amesbury in Wiltshire, Englandin 2002, an archaeological excavation of a burial site revealed a man from the Early Bronze Age buried with war weapons and a pair of gold earrings.

Earrings were considered to be a protective talisman within some religious sects. Amongst sailors, a pierced earlobe was a symbol that the wearer had sailed around the world or had crossed the equator. In addition, it is commonly held that a gold earring was worn by sailors in payment for a proper burial in the event that they might drown at sea. Should their bodies have been washed up on shore, it was hoped that the earring would serve as payment for “a proper Christian burial”.

Pirates wore large gold hoop earrings to indicate the wealth of their boat. Earrings were especially widespread for soldiers; making them even more popular among men than women at one time.

The origin of the earring is to believe to come from the Asian region, predominantly India. Evidence indicates this claim based upon the wearing of earrings in artwork dating back several thousand of years. They were generally shaped as hoops and did not have inlaid jewels.

The Roman Empire in the first century had upper class women competing with each other in ornate styles of gold earrings. The trend change and adding gemstones to the gold became common. The women adored its attractiveness and sparkling sheen. The use of semi-precious and precious stones had their jewellery increase in value too.

By the second century, in medieval Europe, earrings became passé due to the styles of this period – upper class fashions had high collars with elaborate hairdos, and obscured the ear. However, this was short-lived

In Elizabethan England, earrings, or as known at the time as “ear-pickes”, were favoured by both sexes. Women’s earrings were often detailed with jewels or pearls, and draped down from the earlobe. The mens earring usually consisted of simple and plain gold and famous men of the era, such as Shakespeare and Sir Francis Drake wore one.

Womens fashion during the Victorian Era brought in the hat. Wide ribbon bonnets that tied neatly under their chin for day wear now made long dangling earrings impractical for everyday use. The timing was ideal for smaller conservative earrings or no earrings at all. The drop earring presenting plenty of glitz and shimmer was popular in the evening. Even QueenVictoria favoured large drop earrings for formal social events.

The trend for 20th century woman saw the reduction of the pierce earrings to a screw fitting type. New modes of materials were put into the design of earrings, such as clay and glass.

In the 1930’s designers began to produce the clip-on earring. This appeased women who feared piercing as not being sanitary and who perhaps just dreaded having their ears pierced.

1930s matching clip on EARRINGS and Brooch gold interlinking circles Set

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The “Carnaby Street Mod” rage during the 1960’s had the use of plastic came into its own by edgy designers such as Mary Quant, Laura Ashley and of course, the Carnaby Street boutiques. Earrings became an amusing element to fashion, and wearing them was a symbol of self expression to differentiate themselves from the older generation. In the late 1960s, ear piercing began to make inroads among men through the hippie and gay communities. At that time, the practice re-emerged, but since a large commercial market for them did not exist, most ear piercings were done at home. Teenage girls were known to hold ear piercing parties, where they performed the procedure on one another.

In the late 1970s, amateur piercings, sometimes with safety pins and/or multiple piercings, became popular in the punk rock community.

Stud earrings became trendy amongst emerging and established male rock stars of the 60s, 70s, 80s in gold and diamonds. Multiple piercings in one or both ears first emerged in mainstream America in the 1970s. Initially, the trend was for women to wear a second set of earrings in the earlobes, or for men to double-pierce a single earlobe. A variety of specialized cartilage piercings have since become popular. In addition, earlobe stretching, while common in indigenous cultures for thousands of years, began to appear in Western society in the 1990s, and is now a fairly common sight. However, these forms of ear piercing are still infrequent compared to standard ear piercing.

So why do women wear earrings? It’s no doubt that earrings can increase women’s sex appeal. The movement of dangling earrings will catch the eye and get the attention. Show off your neck and bare your shoulders when you wear chandelier earrings, for the sexiest effect.

Pearls are lustrous – they reflect soft, diffused light back to your skin which is very flattering. Diamonds, on the other hand, are famous for their fiery brilliance.

The shape of the earrings can also make you look better through optical illusions. A round face would look slimmer when you wear long earrings that emphasise a vertical line. Flat features look sharper with angular earrings. The sharp lines of the earrings make your features look sharper. A too angular face looks softer with round earrings. Circles and ovals incorporated into the earring design gives the features a softer look.

Text  Wikipedia, photos found through Google

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About wearwhatyoulike

Blogging about what inspires me, moves me and makes me smile. Enjoy and check out my shop: www.redhairday.co.uk XXX

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