Knowledge Centre > Jewellery History > History

Earrings throughout the eras!

Greek filigree gold earrings berganza hatton garden
Greek filigree gold earrings, circa 5th-3rd century BC.
Ref: 24815

Throughout jewellery history, earrings have taken a variety of forms, decorating ears and beautifully framing the face of women from Ancient Greece right through to the present day.

While shapes, styles, materials, and symbolism may have changed and developed, earrings have, with a few exceptions, been popular since we began to adorn ourselves. From timeless studs to dazzling show stoppers, earrings can brighten up a lady’s face and can be that final piece that perfects an outfit.

During the Georgian and early Victorian eras, high society would spend their evening soirées lit by warm candlelight. Necklines were lower and romantic swept-up hair styles left ample space for decorative earrings. Pieces would be set with an array of coloured gemstones as well as early cuts of diamonds that would elegantly sparkle in the warm amber light of the time.

The most popular earrings of the day were typically in the girandole style, named after a type of candelabra. The heft of some of these magnificent earrings led to ingenious methods to relieve the weight on the ear, including ribbons wrapped into the hair and wires that looped over the top of the ear.

By the 1860s, the dormouse design, French for “sleeper”, became increasingly popular. Initially designed as a single drop attached to a curving earwire with a simple leverback mechanism, they were very different to the pendant and girandole earrings of the previous decades.

Petite in size, dormeuse earrings were intended to be so comfortable that a lady could wear them during the day and go on to sleep in them, preventing their ear piercing from closing.

Towards the end of the Victorian era, more fanciful designs of dormeuse earrings developed, often featuring intricate openwork and elaborate cluster designs. Much heavier than the form’s original intent as ‘sleepers’, these designs preserved the essential drop and curved earwire shape, which is comfortable, secure and in versatile styles that frame the face beautifully!

Come the 1920's, the Art Deco era embraced right angles and bold, sharp lines, along with striking bursts of colour against bright white diamonds and platinum settings. Craftsmen re-styled the classic girandoles and long pendant drops into more contemporary pieces. These long styles worked beautifully with the shorter haircuts of the day with coloured gemstones featured heavily, usually being the central point of the piece which were brought to life by accompanying diamonds.

By the 1950s, clip-on earrings were the preferred form; with an incredible array of designs, the additional benefit of clip-on earrings meant that they could be worn by ladies with pierced ears and also by those without.

The statement 70’s saw a resurgence in yellow gold and earrings were often bold and striking. The bigger the better, and designed to be noticed, earrings were often set with vibrant colours and inspiring designs!

At Berganza, we have a range of wearable, unique and distinctive ancient, antique and vintage earrings, spanning many centuries and design periods. Find the perfect earrings for that special occasion or add some sparkle to your daily wear by browsing through our website or visiting the show room.

Victorian natural pearl suite berganza hatton garden
Victorian natural pearl suite, circa 1890.
Ref: 25501
Victorian diamond earrings hatton garden
Victorian diamond earrings, circa 1880.
Ref: 26935
antique diamond drop earrings berganza hatton garden
Diamond drop earrings, French, circa 1890.
Ref: 26208
Edwardian Aquamarine and diamond drop earrings hatton garden
Edwardian Aquamarine and diamond drop earrings, circa 1905.
Ref: 27077
Art Deco emerald diamond drop earrings berganza hatton garden
Art Deco Colombian emerald and diamond drop earrings, circa 1925.
Ref: 26754
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Updated 25/05/2024 at 2:00PM

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