Earrings are more than just decorative jewelry for the ear lobes; they represent style, flair, and the way a person sees herself. This jewelry are available in two basic types, pierced and clip-on, and from there they branch out into a wide variety of shapes and styles. Of pierced earrings, popular styles include simple studs, posts with dangling objects hanging off the front, and posts which hold either a round hoop or hugged-style. Many pierced types attach to the ear with a wire running through the earlobe rather than a post. Clip-ons lost much of their popularity when pierced types shot into style in the 1970s, but have since made a comeback in the last decade. They are just what the name implies: rather than attaching to the ear with a hole through the earlobe, they clip on with a spring attachment or screw-in post.
Both men and women of any age can wear earrings. Many cultures pierce the ears of newborn babies and the jewelry is worn long into old age. While fancy, jeweled earrings are often reserved for evening wear, every other shape and style can be worn with any fashion, either casual or formal, night or day. They are often used to signify special events such as holidays or parties, and fine jeweled pieces are popular gift ideas for birthdays, graduations and weddings. Earrings can enhance a hair style, dangling down with flowing long hair or accentuating a short bob.
Earrings are thought to have originated in Asia and the Middle East. Both hoop and pendant types have been found that date back to about 2000 BC. Pierced earrings date back to ancient Egypt around 1500 BC. They were always a sign of wealth and prosperity, as only affluent women could afford the precious metals of which they were made. Throughout the Dark Ages and Middle Ages, women were usually too poor to own earrings and up until late in the Renaissance, this jewelry was looked upon as flashy and inappropriate for proper women.
They became popular again in 17th century Europe as styles changed and new ideas were adopted. Queen Victoria set a trend in 19th century Europe with her long, jeweled earrings. By the middle of the 20th century, earrings of all shapes and sizes were more popular than ever, though there was a clear distinction between more conservative types worn during the day, and the more ostentatious ones worn in the evenings. In the 1970s, pierced varieties gained popularity and at the same time, styles merged and were no longer segregated to either day or night wear. While their popularity has risen and fallen over the years, they have always been a part of fashion.