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SimplexDiam, Inc

The History of Hoop Earrings
By Diamond Hoops


Hoop earrings are one of the oldest (if not oldest) forms of jewelry having been fashioned and worn for millennia. These earrings have been in popular use – adorning both men and woman – for millennia, dating back to ancient Rome, Greece, and beyond to ancient Sumerian culture.


Historians have tracked the progress of hoop earrings from ancient Sumer to Egypt and then to Greece and Rome, noting a logical progression and evolution in design through time and cultures. Hoops have also later been a part of Eastern cultures throughout Europe.


We explore the history and the significance of hoop earrings to the ancient cultures that created and valued them. This history will give you a better understanding and appreciation of the diamond hoops you see for sale today and the progression in the craft of hoop making. The art of manufacturing hoop earrings continues to be an art. Today’s diamond hoop earrings may bear little resemblance to their predecessors, but they are undeniably the result of thousands of years of craftsmanship and creativity.


Ancient civilizations across the globe seemed to have created this most natural and organic of jewelry designs, some independently and some influenced by neighboring civilizations. We do not know who created and wore the very first hoop earrings. However, we do know that the Sumerians were among the earliest people to create this style of jewelry. Archeologists and anthropologists have tracked their progression and evolution from there to Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.


Sumerian Hoops


Sumerian Hoops


In what is now Iraq, the Sumerian culture was one of the very first civilizations to emerge in the world. It was founded approximately 5000 years ago in the 3rd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. Art and culture thrived as part of this civilization, some of their pictographic writing is preserved in the form of hieorglyphs on tablets. Sumerians had a religion, enjoyed music, pottery, fashion in the form of jewelry – hoop earrings, headdresses, etc. We gain a glimpse of their culture by studying their tombs. The wealthy were buried in their finest clothes with all of their best adornments and belongings. This is where there jewelry has been unearthed and where we have found the first gold hoop earrings. Sumerian jewelers were exceptionally skilled, able to work with at least 4 precious metals and included gemstones in some of their work as well.


Ancient Egypt


The Egyptian civilization is considered to have been formed after the Summerian civilization in approximately the same part of the world when the Northern and Southern portions of Egypt were unified by around 3150 BC. Egyptians enjoyed periods of great prosperity as well as periods of famine and deterioration until Alexander the Great conquered the civilization in 332 BC.


Egyptian Hoops


To ancient Egyptians, gold represented the warmth and light of the sun and the flesh of the gods. It was worn, for the most part, by people of royal blood or higher rank for religious reasons and to ward off hostile spiritual forces. People of status and wealth who lived in ancient Egypt would wear hoop earrings for protection from evil.


Academics now believe that both men and women in high stations wore gold hoop earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and other pieces of jewelry to adorn themselves. Having pierced ears and wearing gold hoop earrings like the ones pictured above was widely popular with men and women throughout the period of the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt, roughly from 1550-1070 BCE.


Ancient Greece


Evidence also exists of hoop earrings’ popularity in ancient Greece dating back to the 5th century BCE. In addition to plain hoop earrings, the Greeks made hoops in the shape of boats or lions’ heads. They also hung pendants from their earrings to pay homage to different gods. For example, the cow heads were representations of fertility and marriage and gave honor to Hera, the wife of Zeus.


Greek Hoops


Other popular pendants that hung from ancient Greek hoop earrings included figurines representing Eros (also known as Cupid), bulls’ heads to represent virility and pay homage to Zeus, as well as simpler carvings such as pyramids and vase-shaped pendants.


Though the hoop earrings pictured above are fashioned from gold, the Greeks were also known to use precious and semi-precious gemstones in their earrings and were most likely the very first culture to create diamond hoop earrings along with hoop earrings fashioned with other gemstones.


Ancient Rome


Communication, Trade, and travel between Greece and Rome allowed for a cultural interchange between these two great civilizations. Most ancient Roman earrings were actually fashioned by Greek artisans. This explains why ancient Roman hoops resemble Greek hoop earrings closely. However, the hoops found in Rome in the first century AD also tend to borrow heavily from the Egyptian styles of earrings, as well. In addition to borrowing the crown of Isis motif from the Egyptians and the knot of Hercules from the Greeks, the Romans also frequently portrayed depictions of snakes in their jewelry - the snake was the Roman symbol for eternity.


By the second century AD, grapes had become a common motif for Roman hoop earrings. These were generally made of two intertwining lengths of gold wire fashioned into hoops with gold “grapes” attached to them at the bottom of the hoops. Along with these, other braided and single-wire hoops continued in popularity from the 1st through the 3rd centuries AD in Rome. Examples of such hoop earrings can be seen online here and also here.


Ancient China and India


While in the West hoop earrings made their way from Sumer to ancient Rome, there is also evidence of hoop earrings in the East - specifically southwest and northeast China. Jade earrings dating as far back as 5000 BCE have been found in these regions, and earrings made of copper and other metals have been found dating back to 4250 BCE.


Indian depictions of gods and the Buddha show hoop earrings and other jewelry. This practice was done not only for adornment, but – like the Egyptians – also to ward off evil spirits.


Hoop Earrings in Medieval Europe and the Renaissance


For over 5,000 years men and women of different cultures in Asia and Europe wore hoop earrings to adorn their ears, ward off evil, and pay homage to their gods. As expected, hoops were also prevalent throughout Europe from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and up to today.


William Shakespeare


This famous portrait of William Shakespeare painted in 1616 shows the celebrated bard wearing a small hoop earring. Hoop earrings were also popular before Shakespeare during the Middle Ages. In fact, although hoop earrings remained popular for men – they actually lost some popularity with women due to the prevalence of large wigs, wide hats, and high collars obscuring them.


Hoop earrings never entirely lost popularity for women either, though, and by the 16th century, with lower collars and necklines coming into vogue, hoop earrings gained considerable popularity. From that time forward, hoop earrings, especially those made from gold and other precious metals and encrusted with precious gemstones, have been a popular means of showing off wealth and taste for those who could afford them.


Modern Day Diamond Hoop Earrings


Though ancient cultures may have focused more on the metal of the hoops, today modern craftsmanship and creativity bring an entirely new level of shine and sparkle with diamond hoop earrings. Through the evolution of jewelry design and craftsmanship, the history and evolution of the hoop earring continues with diamond hoops.


Traditionally diamond hoops have diamonds set into the hoop of the earring facing outward all the way around the earring, excluding the stud or wire that actually pierces the ear. These have a classic and dazzling look, but they don’t provide the only option for modern yet timeless diamond hoops.


Introducing Inside Outside Diamond Hoop Earrings


Instead of leaving bare gold exposed along the inside back the hoops, with inside outside diamond hoops, the diamonds mounted along the back of the hoop face inward (or forward) while the diamonds along the front of the hoop face outward. The look is entirely modern and yet instantly classic - women with both short and long hair can enjoy this evolved diamond hoop style.


Both traditional diamond hoops and inside outside hoops can be found in round or oblong shapes and with a number of different settings. These earrings pay homage to the history of fine hoop manufacturing, maintaining a gorgeous and brilliantly modern look and feel as part of the ongoing evolution and growth of this ancient jewelry art form. At DiamondHoops.com, we are contributing to this continuing evolution.


When you purchase a pair of diamond hoops, you are purchasing the culmination of thousands of years of jewelry making history and tradition. For thousands of years, cultures all over the world have created and coveted hoop earrings, and by wearing your diamond hoops, you show your love not only for a piece of jewelry but also for a wealth of history and a world community.



Image Sources:


Sumerian Hoops:



Egyption Hoops:



Greek Hoops:



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