A Brief History of Hoop Earrings

Nothing completes a woman’s outfit quite like hoop earrings. These accessories catch a person’s eye, send a bold statement, and provide information about the wearer’s personality. Many people assume diamond hoop earrings are a fairly new fashion trend, but nothing is further from the truth. In fact, men and women alike have been wearing hoop earrings for almost as long as humans have been in existence. What is it about this earring style that has allowed it to endure for centuries? Where did this earring style originate, and who was first to wear them?

Although it isn’t necessary to know the history of hoop earrings, people find their origins to be very interesting. The symbolism behind these accessories remains unknown to many. However, when you go to browse hoop earrings at Adina’s Jewels, you’ll find having this information makes you look at each pair differently.

Ancient Empires

Hoop earrings actually arrived on the scene during ancient times. In fact, countless individuals donned these accessories, including men and women from many different cultures. Historians believe women in Sumeria wore these earrings as far back as 2500 BCE. At the same time, it is believed people who lived in the parts of Africa now known as Sudan also wore these earrings. However, they likely weren’t the only civilizations making use of hoop earrings for a variety of purposes.

Egyptians began wearing hoop earrings around 1500 BCE and they became ingrained in tradition and culture. Many people believe that is because the earrings were seen as a symbol of wealth, while others feel they were worn as a way to emphasize a person’s looks.

Over time, hoop earrings began to make their way to other parts of the world. Goldsmiths in Greece began creating hoop earrings in the first millennium, BCE, and they were quickly followed by Etruscan goldsmiths. These cultures created a variation of hoop earrings and believed these accessories demonstrated a person’s property and wealth. They loved to create works of art rather than just earrings. As a result, these accessories came with intricate designs and embellishments. A person could choose earrings with flowers, gemstones, beads, and more.

It wasn’t long before hoop earrings became common in the Roman Empire. At first, people didn’t want these earrings to be worn. Nevertheless, as the empire expanded, they grew in popularity. Julius Caesar often donned hoop earrings while serving as ruler.

Over time, Rome’s influence declined, and different types of hoop earrings were seen more. For instance, Byzantine hoops were very popular in ancient civilizations and were easily identifiable. They came in plain gold and featured pearl pendants hanging from chains. However, hoop earrings quickly fell in terms of their popularity as the Dark Ages approached.

The Middle Ages and Renaissance

Members of the royal family rarely wore earrings during the Middle Ages. Although they would occasionally be seen with other jewelry pieces, earrings remained uncommon. Experts believe this might be due to the hairstyles and high-collared fashions seen during these periods in history. It wasn’t until the 1500s during the Renaissance that hoop earrings reemerged on the fashion scene. At that time, Europeans tended to favor clasp earrings or pendants in a pear shape. This didn’t mean hoop earrings were completely ignored or overlooked.

This period in history is when pirates began wearing hoop earrings. Some men and women believe they may have done so to show they made it through a challenging journey. Other individuals, however, say the hoops became popular among pirates as they saw them as a form of protection. It is possible they were worn to cure seasickness or it could be the pirates believed wearing the earrings would ensure no man fell overboard. Nobody can say for certain what started this trend, but pirates definitely enjoyed wearing them regularly. In the coming centuries, hoop earrings would remain a mainstay in fashion.

The 1800s

During the early part of the 19th century, hoops became fashionable once again across the globe. Designers looked to ancient times when creating jewelry. However, the earrings went in and out of fashion as the century progressed. Often, their popularity depended on the hairstyles that were trending at any given time. If the ears were covered, earrings weren’t needed. When the hair was up, hoop earrings were seen everywhere one went.

The Early 20th Century

Women the world over fell in love with earrings all over again in the early 20th century. Some Western cultures thought it was barbaric to pierce a person’s ears. They associated this practice with Latin and Native American cultures. However, hairstyles changed in the 1920s and earrings became popular again. When King Tutt’s tomb was discovered in 1922 in Egypt, hoop earrings were coveted once again. They went well with bob haircuts and celebrities in Hollywood loved this style during the 1940s and 1950s. However, it was the 1960s that will truly cement hoop earrings in history books.

The 1960s

The 1960s is known for many things. People often associate this decade with hippies, long hair, drugs, and Woodstock. At this time, women straightened their hair which allowed them to show off their earrings. Many women turned to hoop earrings, as they saw these accessories as a symbol of female power. Latina and African American women, in particular, loved these earrings and associated them with female empowerment. As the decade came to a draw, accessories took on a new meaning and dominated fashion. In the following decade, these earrings could be seen on celebrities such as Diana Ross and Cher, women who many looked to when it came to fashion trends.

The 1980s On

In the 1980s Latina and African American women turned to hoops once again. In fact, they become a commonplace accessory in communities across the country. As in the 1960s, the women saw these earrings as a symbol of empowerment and pride for women of color. They viewed it as a symbol of their ancestry, culture, and strength.

Today, people question whether wearing hoop earrings serves as a type of cultural appropriation. However, as these earrings have been worn by people of all sexes, races, ages, religions, and more, any person should feel comfortable wearing them with confidence. Every woman should feel at ease wearing hoop earrings and showing they are an independent person who isn’t afraid to take the world on head first.


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