Sunday, March 16, 2014

"I would rather lose a good earring

than be caught without make-up." ~ Lana Turner
Although if you look like that, I am not sure earrings or make-up really matters!  About 7000 years ago, earrings were worn by men (took awhile for it to recycle back).  In ancient Asia, Egyptians and Assyrians wore earrings to signify that they belonged to a higher class.  Picture Donald Trump with tear-drop diamonds!  Anyway, I am using this post to highlight the sea glass earrings made by our sea glass artisan Catherine.
In ancient Rome, the earrings became a slave marker and then the ancient Greeks could identify the prostitutes by the earrings (no comment there).   Ironically, wealthy Greek and Roman women would wear earrings also, but they wore pearls as well as topaz, garnet, and sapphire designs.
The first earrings were attached through piercings in the ear lobe, and ear piercing is one of the oldest known forms of body modification, which was done to symbolize age, status and wealth.  Primitive cultures believed earrings kept evil spirits from entering the body through the ears. In addition to their protective power, earrings were thought to have curative effects. Pierced earrings were recommended to strengthen weak eyes (I should have very wholly ears!), and gold earrings set with emeralds were considered particularly effective (never mind!). Gold ear jewelry has been worn by those seeking to cure headaches.
In the countries of the ancient Orient the preference was for silver and golden earrings set with rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Earrings were especially celebrated in India, China and Assyria.  Earrings are still featured as traditional gifts at festivals, weddings, childbirth and other rites of passage in  India. Beautiful earrings are often passed from Indian mothers to daughters for several generations.
When ships began to sail the oceans, the image of the gold hoop became a common symbol.
A very superstitious group, sailors purchased and wore gold earrings for several reasons. It meant that a sailor had crossed the equator, sailed around the world, or survived a shipwreck. Some sailors believed the pierced ear concept that it would improve eyesight or hearing. And if they didn’t survive a shipwreck, the gold ring in the ear would pay for a Christian burial wherever the body washed up.
During the Middle Ages in Europe male earrings alternated between being popular and being out of style for long periods of time until in the 13th century when the Catholic Church forbade the piercing of ears. This was done in accordance with the dogma stating that a person cannot alter his or her body which is created in the image of God. Only thieves, pirates and representatives of the lower class continued to wear earrings.
Thieves used this means of expression to demonstrate their abhorrence for society while peasants pierced the ear of the only boy in the family or of a child who had been born immediately following the death of another child.
Earrings for women came and went with fashion and hair styles.  Shorter hair styles became popular after World War I, and jewelry designers created long, dangling jewelry for the ear. Clip-ons and screwback earrings were developed in the 1930s and were considered more sanitary than the pierced.
The Art Deco period between the two world wars introduced a flurry of new designs featuring strong geometrical patterns in everything from jewelry to architecture that reflected influences of the Far and Middle East, Greece, Rome, Egypt and the cubist style in art.
Ear piercing returned to Western culture in the middle of the century. By the 1960s, ears were being pierced in jewelry stores, physicians’ offices and teenage girls’ parties. Around the same time, jewelers were selling gold earrings and earrings of other materials for daytime wear; previously they’d been largely reserved for evening.

Some men, especially in the gay and counterculture communities, began wearing earrings, usually a small stud or hoop, in the late 1960s. The idea that it symbolized something faded and became a popular accessory for men again.  And, speaking of men and earrings, there Holly Golightly's line from Breakfast at Tiffany's...

 "You could always tell what kind of a person a man thinks you are by the earrings he gives you."

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