Gold and diamond earrings are absolutely one of the best possible gifts for the modern woman. But who invented the first earrings? And what has been the significance of earrings in the fields of economics, politics and faith throughout the course of history?

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The concise history of earrings

Earrings have had a long history and various functions, depending on the period and the people who were wearing them. You can find a brief history of earrings here.

  • Gold, silver and bronze earrings were already known in the Minoan civilization (3000 - 1200 BC). They were worn as body decorations. They may even be older, as older mummies have been found with pierced ears.

  • In the Middle Ages, women often wore jewellery in their hair, and their hair came below the ears. So earrings were superfluous at that time.

William Shakespeare with earring. Men could wear earrings, too. – BAUNAT

  • Popularity increased In the 16th century - among men, too. William Shakespeare and Francis Drake, among others, often wore earrings. Sailors also wore earrings symbolically.

  • By the 60s, more and more women had started piercing their ears. This had not been done for some time. Around this time, earrings also acquired additional meanings: as a sign of non-conformism in hippies, as a tribute to their roots for black people, or as an expression of sexual orientation in men.

The first people to wear earrings

Long before our time, the Minoans wore gold earrings. The Minoan civilization had been established on the Greek island of Crete between 3,000 and 1,200 BC. The Minoans traded with neighbouring populations in Asia Minor, Turkey, Greece, Egypt and Phoenicia. They were masters in metalwork, and made jewellery out of bronze, copper, silver and gold.
The history of earrings goes back a long way. Around 5000 years or more.
Gold earrings are also mentioned in the Bible. While Moses was talking to God on Mount Sinai, his brother and high priest, Aaron, asked the Israelites to melt their wives', sons' and daughters' gold earrings into a golden calf. This idol was worshipped by the people as the God who had delivered them from Egypt.

Cultural references to earrings

For a long time, earrings were not only used for decoration. Throughout history, earrings often had symbolic meaning, or were a kind of financial safety net.

Pirates with earrings

The most common depiction of a pirate is as a bearded man with an eye patch, wooden leg and an earring. Earrings seems perfectly respectable. So why does a pirate wear an earring? The most plausible explanation is that the jewellery was a kind of insurance for when pirates and sailors died at sea. If their bodies washed up somewhere, selling the gold earrings would pay for their burial. Others claim gold earrings were a sign of experience or a status symbol: the larger the earrings, the longer the wearer had sailed the world's oceans.
That pirates wore gold earrings is no myth, but an historical fact.
Why do fishermen wear earrings? They also wore an earring as identification in case their ship was wrecked, or to pay for their burial. Today, earrings are more a tradition with fishermen, and a tribute to the profession.
Earrings have various meanings in India. - BAUNAT
According to yet another theory, the tradition has something to do with Eastern medicine, and, more specifically, auriculotherapy. This is a form of acupuncture, but only performed on the outer ear. Doctors were using this technique widely in the 18th and 19th centuries. In traditional medicine in the Netherlands, wearing a gold earring was recommended for curing and preventing eye problems. Pirates might have worn earrings to see better.
Martin Luther King quote. For black men, earrings denoted non-conformism. - BAUNAT

Earrings and political movements

White Americans remained convinced that the white race was superior, long after the abolition of slavery. Following the Second World War, self-awareness grew among the black population. Martin Luther King's I have a dream speech set in motion the movement that fought for racial equality in America. The Black Power movement emerged in the late 1960s, which proudly promoted collective values and interests. Supporters wore gold earrings to honour their African descent.
In the 60s, hippies used to wear earrings as a symbol of rebellion and non-conformism. Men also started wearing earrings to show their sexual orientation. Heterosexual men wore their earring in the left ear, homosexual men wore one in the right. That distinction is much less pronounced these days.

Earrings today

These days, men and women of every age, race and social class wear gold earrings, with or without diamonds. Purely for decorative reasons in the West, but in other cultures earrings also carry a religious meaning. Muslim men are not allowed to wear gold jewellery, for instance. Some Jewish scribes see gold as a symbol of luxury which leads to ruin.
Small creole earrings by BAUNAT. These earrings are mainly a fashion item these days.
Creole earrings: very popular today with trendy women. But what exactly are creole earrings? Creole earrings are large, round earrings which have recently gained in popularity. They symbolise resilience, strength and identity in some black and Caribbean cultures. In recent years, these earrings have grown into a real fashion item for us. They are a popular accessory, especially in hip hop culture. They can range from a limited to an impressively large diameter. The word "creole" means slave in Surinamese. This is, in fact, a reference to the colonial era, when African slaves had to wear round earrings or a cuff bracelet. This made it clear that they were someone's property.

Browse these smaller creole earrings from BAUNAT now

Women should never go without earrings. Passing on them is an opportunity missed.
Rihanna wearing large creole earrings. These earrings find their roots in slavery. - BAUNAT
Creole earrings are very popular today with people having African roots. Think of rappers, who are often loaded down with gold chains. Expensive jewellery and earrings have been inextricably linked to hip-hop culture throughout history. Well-known fashionistas such as Rihanna and Hailey Baldwin like wearing conspicuous, large gold earrings, and have made creole earrings super cool again.

Are you looking for the perfect pair of earrings?

Are you not sure which type of earrings you like? There are plenty of designs, so you can certainly find a style which makes your face shine through and through. As well as creole earrings, we also have stud earrings, designer earrings and drop earrings in our extensive earring collection. Would you prefer to come in and try them first, instead of ordering online? Book an appointment online at one of our showrooms.

What else should you know about earrings?

After reading this blog, you already know a little more about earrings in all shapes and sizes. There is much more to discover in the blogs below about earrings, stud earrings, earrings for a wedding, which earrings suit you best or how to wear statement earrings. For other questions and specialist advice, you can always get in touch with our experts.
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