Lend Me Your Ears - Earrings: A Brief History & How to Wear Them Comfortably

Women have gone through great lengths throughout the centuries, all for the sake of fashion! From wearing tight corsets, painful high-heeled shoes, tons of sticky make-up, and painful earrings, it hasn't been easy to look good!

Earrings are a simple and unique way to brighten up your facial features and wardrobe. However, sometimes vintage earrings can be PAINFUL

Selection of Earrings


According to Wikipedia:

  • Archaeologists first discovered that mankind have been wearing earrings since 2600 BCE when digging up an ancient burial site from the Early Dynasty period in Ur, which is now Iraq
  • Man adorned their pierced ears with gold, brass and the blue lapis lazuli
  • Ear piercing is one of the oldest known forms of body modification
  • Earrings did not appear in Europe until the 16th century and this accessory is now the norm for current times.
Shakespeare wore earrings and paintings throughout history showed its consistent popularity in the past 500 centuries. (Shakespeare portrait from 1660 owned by Chandos) and The Girl with the Pearl Earring (Vermeer, a Dutch painter 1665.)

Shakespeare and the Girl with the Pearl Earring


  • 1901: Genteel women considered ear piercing uncivilized and it was deemed as self-mutilation
  • Many woman ceased wearing earrings or else they longed for an alternative option that didn't exist
  • The 1920s flapper style emphasized dangle earrings to accent the ear and the neckline
  • 1924: The faux pearl was invented, creating an affordable jewelry popularity
  • Late 1920s: A mechanism that gently 'screwed' onto the back of the earlobe skin was invented 

Here's a photo of a flapper from Glamour Daze. Short hair and dangled earrings that were still probably pierced was the fashion in The Roaring 20s.

What Flappers Really wore from Glamour Days


  • 1929: the screw-back earring trend gained momentum over pierced earrings and it was the new norm in the mid-1930s
  • 1934: the clip-on, paddle back earring was invented and marketed
  • Pierced earrings sales faded into the background as clip-on or screw back earrings dominated the market

Here's a pair of 1930s earrings with the first type of clip-on backings, available for sale on our site. They are gorgeous green rhinestone with faux gold. I love the easy clip - it's less bulky than other designs.

1930s earring


  • Hollywood designers Joseff of Hollywood (designer to Hollywood stars), popularized his designs used in films featuring Hedy Lamarr and Joan Crawford
  • Monet, Bogoff, Coro and Trifari were also major players who popularized the clip-on and screw back earrings in department stores
Below: A 1949 Trifari advertisement promoting rhinestone cluster earrings with a matching necklace. (Source: Pinterest)

    Trafari 1949

    Even when wearing simple, pale Lucite earrings, young Lauren Bacall in the 1940s - she looks fantastic as it brought out the colour of her eyes (Source: Google images)

    Lauren Bacall - 1940s

    A 1950s model is wearing white cluster, faux pearl clip-ons. (Source: Get Frocked on Facebook)

    1950s model with cluster earrings

    This 1956 model, Lucinda Hollingsworth, is wearing a stunning pair of gold and blue earrings. (Source: Pinterest)

    1956 Model

    These blue Serpentine earrings in Trifari's 1960s advertisement are so bold!  (Source: Pinterest.)

    Trafari Serpentine

    Here's a wide array of earrings from my personal collection that aren't for sale. I truly believe these are works of art. The collection includes:

    • Intricately crafted earrings with delicate floral arrangements, plastic and lucite beads, or tiny glass or crystal rhinestones
    • Many pairs were manually assembled with simple machines and molds, then glued or stitched to metals, gold or silver filigree backings
    • Most sets are from the 1940s-1960s and were made by hand in Japan, the US, Hong Kong or Western Germany. Some are CORO, Trifari or unbranded.
    • Coined Fruit salads, or cluster beaded earrings in many colours - orange, red and yellow and green

    Earrings Collection by Peppermint-twistvintage.com

    Also, these gorgeous 1950s clip-on earrings were made in West Germany. They were handmade with care by gluing petals and beads to form a perfect bouquet of orange and greens. 

    1950s made in western germany

    Eventually mass production occurred even in the 1950s-1960s because department store demand was very high so Coro, Trifari, Weiss, Sarah Coventry, etc. had to keep up with the department store sales for faux pearl, beads or rhinestone jewelry. (Photo: Pinterest)

    Department store in the 1950s

    Also, clip-on earrings aren't just for your ears! They can also make great shoe, lapel, purse and dress clips, as seen in this advertisement. And we actually have this exact set of earrings for sale..

    Sarah Coventry Ad  


    • Wear the earrings in the center of your ear

    • Gently push the paddle back or screw back 

    • Clean them with rubbing alcohol to take away dirt, sweat

    • Store them in a jewelry box  for long-lasting life



    I won't deny that the biggest issue with screw-back or clip-on backings is that they can be uncomfortable or not secure for long wear. But this depends on the designer, quality and style.  I myself lost single earring and cringed for days.

    Luckily, someone (unknown?) realized that these earrings were not as secure or comfortable! And luckily for us, fabric and silicone pads are made available!

    I personally tested these clips by wearing both clip-on and screw back earrings for 8 hours straight with comfort pads and low and behold, I felt NO pain!! 

    To me, every pair of vintage clip-on or screw back earrings should be sold with these silicone pads that costs less than $2/pair. NOTE: When you purchase earrings from peppermint-twist-vintage.com, we always include a free pair of comfort clips for clip-on and screw back earrings. 

    Alternately, you convert your clip-on earrings to pierced backings by purchasing kits but if you don't want to mess around with glue, and want to keep it original, I recommend you don't do this. I myself never like to alter vintage pieces for originality and historical purposes. But to each is own.


    In the 1970s, pierced ears made a comeback as woman were more liberated and they pushed the boundaries on what was socially acceptable, including ear piercing. Clip-on and screw-back earring sales plummeted as people opted for pierced earrings and the styles were a lot simplier.

    The below photo is a 1970's MONET advertisement for simple gold pierced earrings. (Source: Pinterest)

    Monet 1970s

    In addition, men commonly began to wear earrings especially in the 1970s, with the punk movement. Then in the 1980s to current, it is still a unisex trend today.

    Monet 1980s ad

    Whatever your style or favourite decade - we carry so many styles of earrings - in different colours, patterns, sizes and shades. In this latest decade of 2020, it's also popular to wear one earrings again, as it was in the 1970s - 1980s. Feel free to browse and shop our catalogue. We have many styles to chose from. We hope you enjoy our collection! If you use code: NEWSLETTER-WELOVEYOU at check-out, you will save 15% and most items ship FREE.



    Until next time.



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    I have loved your very well tracked vintage jewelry timeline, and the tie in to history in books, movies, fashion, I can identify with all. I own beautiful, fantastic bits of what I too consider art!! ‼️Time has come to pass them on so they go into living hands, not to just those who only admire real diamonds or pearls, sapphire etc. , I too have those but they cannot take the place of something as interesting as these vintage works that do light up our faces, theatrical moments, charming grace! They are studied, coveting the ti y design and brilliant sparkle, not to be found just anywhere!
    Tip; From the Antique Roadshow Wirkshop, I learned the. Ery best, least damaging cleaner for any gold, piece including leaf gold frames, delicate pieces and places on art jewelry, is as Mothers knew, your own Silva, on the end, in art situations, not your child’s face, Q-Tip, wet it in your mouth producing enough moisture to remove ages of dust, etc. Make up, oils , etc
    Without removing the very real precious gold it took to make the gold look, and to last! All will become clean, shiny, brilliantly beautiful again!
    Have fun to all who love beauty and art!



    That’s all I wear vintage clip ons 29 pairs just arrive today thanks for sharing that ad

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