The Fascinating History Of Hoop Earrings

Earth Song Jewelry handmade natural stone hoop earrings

If you’ve looked through the Earth Song Jewelry catalog much at all you’ve probably seen that I have quite a few different takes on hoop earrings included in my natural stone jewelry collections. I even have a few designs that don’t feature stones or crystals at all.

Hoops are one of those types of earrings that are both classic and modern at the same time, and always in fashion.

But did you know that that’s been true a lot longer than most people expect?

Here’s the hidden history of hoop earrings. Who knows, maybe knowing more about the history of this jewelry will make you want an extra pair or two in your jewelry collection.

Hoops Are Some Of The Oldest Earring Styles

When it comes to hoop earrings, there is something about them that feels very modern. The truth though, is that hoop earrings are almost anything but modern.

In fact, we have evidence for hoops earrings from as early as 2000 B.C.E., and know that multiple cultures were wearing hoop earrings in different styles even back then.

An Ancient Egypt, both men and women wore hoop earrings, and sometimes even had their pets wear them. Cats in particular might have pierced ears and earrings.

Sailors Might Have Saved The Style

Like many fashions, different styles of earrings come and go over time. While metal hoops remained a common fashion accessory through much of the Ancient World, including in Rome, the Dark Ages are a different story.

While the reasons for hoop earrings going out of style aren’t as well known, we do know that hoops stopped being a popular earring for several centuries.

However, there was one group in society that continued to wear hoop earrings throughout this period… Sailors.

Pirates in particular were known for wearing gold hoop earrings, sometimes more than one in each ear. One theory behind the fashion was that the earrings could be used to pay for burial for men who went overboard and later washed up on shore.

While that might have been the motivation for some sailors, braving the oceans was anything but a safe profession after all, chances are that many of them wore earrings simply because they liked the way they looked.

Hoops made from high value metals like Gold and Silver might also have been a way for a sailor to show off their success. After all, earrings aren’t an accessory that serve a second purpose. They’re a purely decorative item.

Being able to afford several gold hoop earrings would be a pretty good indicator of a sailor's success on the seas. Of course sailors could also sell the earrings if they ever came on hard times.

Hoops Wouldn’t Always Be Sailors’ Fashion

By the 1900’s, hoops were starting to come back into fashion. For one thing, the bobs and other short haircuts that were popular in the early 20th century worked particularly well with hoop earrings, and many women wore them to help soften the sharp edges of their hair.

Another significant turning point in the trends came with the discover of Tutankhamen's Tomb. The pharaoh was found to have worn hoop earrings, along with many other people from his time.

Suddenly, instead of being the kind of jewelry worn only by sailors and nomads, hoop earrings were a way to seem exotic and sophisticated. The combination helped bring hoop earrings back into vogue, and saw many jewelers and jewelry artisans experimenting with different staples of hoop earrings.

Hoops Look Good On Just About Everyone

One of the unique things about this style, and probably a huge part of why hoop earrings have lasted so long in human history, is that these earrings look good on almost everyone.

Even if you can’t pull off the largest hoop earrings out there, most people will look good in a smaller set of hoops. Of course, middle ground options, hoops with added gems and crystals, or even hoops in non-traditional styles give you even more options.

Depending on the style you choose, they could be perfect for a romantic getaway, a professional office look, or a casual day out with friends.

Wearing Hoops Can Be A Way To Reclaim Cultural Roots

There are a lot of different cultures that can claim hoops as a traditional accessory. Some of the original cultures found wearing hoop earrings were in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Both plain hoops and hoops featuring African and Middle Eastern motifs are a popular link to those cultures.

Of course, you could also wear hoops if you know that your family has a strong sailing background, or just because you love the way you look. Or maybe as an homage to early portrayals of Pharaoh Cleopatra, since many portrayals featured hoop earrings.

No 20’s flapper costume is complete without a good pair of hoops!

As a natural stone jewelry artisan, it can be easy to focus on the stones and designs that really focus on those stones. But there is something elegant and very natural about our attraction to hoop earrings, and I wanted to take a moment to focus on this beautiful style.

Curious about my different artistic takes on hoop earrings? Check out my Hoop Earring Collection, and, as always, keep an eye on for new releases and news about my handmade jewelry!