Vintage Clip-On Earrings: History of Pierced Ears


Going through not only my grandmother’s jewelry but also thrift shop jewelry, I always found it peculiar that there are a significant amount of clip on earrings. So I asked my grandmother and did a bit more research to find out that at one point, pierced ears fell out of trend for a while. It was fun to know it wasn’t because she came from a strict family but because parents didn’t get their children’s ears pierced.

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Pierced ears have been documented from early on with Egyptians (below) and Romans so I always thought they’ve been a social norm. Turns out, for about 80+ years, it was not common for women to have pierced ears. Flappers were known for wearing large, chandelier earrings but those were in fact, mainly clip-on earrings.

(Egyptian earrings at The Met.)

Around the 1960’s, doctors started offering ear piercing as a service but it was still not a mainstream accessory. In the movie Grease (set in 1958), we saw Sandy’s friends attempting to pierce her ears at the slumber party because it was scandalous. In the 1970’s, during the Hippie era, the process of getting your ears pierced became very popular, opening the jewelry industry to new types of creations. In the 80’s, men in the UK started piercing their ears and the 90’s for men in the US.

Nowadays, we have multiple ear piercings, septum, conch, helix and more. Why limit yourself to your ears? There’s plenty of body piercings people do too.

Through my personal research and learning more and more as I thrift, I have collected a great vintage jewelry (and earring) collection. Take a look below!

1950s vintage earrings
1950’s Pink Rhinestone Clip-On Earrings

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1950’s Silver Rhinestone Earrings

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1930s german jewelry
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