earring

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earring,

a personal adornment, sometimes an amulet, worn attached to the ear lobe. Since prehistoric times the ear has been pierced for the insertion of the earring; certain primitive tribes distort the lobe with plugs several inches in diameter or with heavy stones. Egyptians first wore large gold hoops, which eventually became smaller and supported pendants. In Babylonia and later in Assyria where the earring was worn by men to denote rank, the earring evolved into an exquisite work of the goldsmith's art. In Greece the finely wrought gold earrings often had tinkling pendants. The Romans were first to popularize earrings set with precious stones. Earrings were little used with the headdresses of the Middle Ages, but their use had a vigorous revival during the Renaissance and was also adopted by men; pearls were especially favored. In the 18th cent. the diamond earring became most fashionable; the 19th cent. saw extensive use of the cameo. With the invention (c.1900) of a screw device for attaching the earring, their popularity again increased.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Earring

 

an ornament usually attached to a pierced earlobe and worn by women and, less commonly, by men. In the Bronze Age earrings were made mainly of copper, silver, and gold. In antiquity earrings were made of precious metals combined with glass, jewels, and pearls. The most popular type of earring is a loop with a pendant. The wearing of earrings was sometimes associated with a definite legal or family status. For example, in ancient Rome the only men who wore earrings were male slaves. Among the ancient Slavs, the earrings worn by maidens differed from those worn by married women. Today earrings are produced in many different styles and continue to be a popular ornament worn by women.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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