Earrings From Antiquity to the Present: 2500 Years of Earrings (available in hard cover or paperback) presents a history of these important components of a woman's and man's appearance. The authors are specialists in the history and archeology of jewelry. The story begins in the fifth century B. C.in central Italy with the Etruscans, whose preferred earring was the hoop, often decorated with the head of a ram or a lion. Hoop earrings were made hollow so a small amount of perfumed oil could be kept inside. Etruscans amassed great wealth and fashioned elaborate jewelry decorated with tiny sculptures of birds, rosettes, and chains with pearls. Etruscan jewelers were highly skilled in all methods of gold work and lapidary.
The decline and fall of the Roman Empire seems to have had an adverse effect on jewelry production, as there are few remains of jewelry found from the third century A. D.
The elaborate headdresses, high collars, and complex hair styles of the Middle Ages left little room for earrings.
During the Renaissance women began to wear earrings again. From the 17th century forward, earrings took center stage and were ornate in their use of large gemstones and much goldwork. The illustrations from this period, including beautiful portraits of women completely bedecked in rich parures of gold and gemstones, tell a wonderful story of the renaissance jeweler's art.
The 18th and 19th Centuries show a myriad of earring designs, many of them wild and wonderful: dangles made to resemble a bushel basket full of (ruby) apples, onyx hens sitting on (ivory) eggs in a woven gold basket, carved faces of Greek gods, a 5-inch long earring set with kite-shaped aquamarines. “The elegant lady would suspend almost anything from her ears provided it was decorative. "
In the chapter covering the 20th century, you might see a pair of earrings resembling some you or someone you know owns.
The authors tell a story not only about earrings but also about the development of civilization in the Western world, and our love affair with jewelry.
Jane Shafrin has been conducting a love affair with jewelry since her childhood. She designs jewelry, collects and sells vintage jewelry, and her web site, Beads by Mail , contains pages full of information about gemstones, beads, how to make jewelry, and publishes free bead patterns. Jane's goal is to provide the best customer support on the Web. What other company owner answers every phone call and email? Beads by Mail ships orders worldwide and is one of the best places to buy Kenneth Jay Lane couture jewelry.