Lobe piercings are probably one of the most common piercings in the UK, and more than likely one of the first ever attempted piercings on mankind. Piercings have been around for thousands of years, and there’s much debate about the oldest ever one. There have been many sources stating mummies dating back to 5000 years ago have been found with their ears pierced (however some sources can date back to 12,000 years ago), or even stretched! Archaeological evidence of the mummy Pharaoh Tutankhamen shows that he had his ears pierced, and many pairs of earrings were found alongside him in his tomb.
Different cultures have different reasons why they choose to pierce their lobes, and different methods by which they do it. Ancient civilizations across the world, from Africa to Asia, have been known to use body modifications to determine social status or function as spiritual protection. The oldest mummified person, Otzi the Ice Man, had pierced earlobes. Some of the first documented lobe piercings were among native African and southeast Asian tribes that pierced for spiritual purposes. Wearing metal ear piercings was believed to prevent bad spirits, due to the belief that spirits and demons were repelled by metal. Ancient Romans were also believed to have worn studs in their ears.
Of course, lobe piercings were not the only piercings that date back across eons, but in this blog post I’d like to look more into how lobe piercings became commonplace in the UK, and how they became so popularized.
Christianity had a huge impact on body modification, with the church considering it to be pagan and against God’s image. This view contributed to body piercings in the western world becoming underground. At some points in history, only those on the outskirts of society had their body adorned with such metal and jewelry. However the tradition of lobe piercings in the western world can be sourced back to being symbols of wealth, power or status. During the renaissance era, men started to adorn their ears with earrings to show their nobility. Every nobleman would have at least one piercing, and typically larger diamonds and pearls were worn to show off one’s wealth. This was a really good way to become known on the marriage market. On a famous portrait painting of William Shakespeare, you can clearly see a golden ring threaded through his lobe, and even portraits of male monarchs at the time, such as Charles 1, you can see beautiful earrings, such as pearls.
Its also noted that around the same time and possibly even earlier, earrings were also worn by sailors. There’s many theories surrounding why; including it helped their eyesight, to signify their bond with the sea (like a marriage), and also being a symbol of accomplishment of sailing the world. Another one was that because they were solid Gold rings, they could fund their funeral after they died.
But when, why, and how did lobe piercings become as popular and as normalised as we know them to be now, especially among women and young girls? Well, all eyes are on Queen Victoria for starting this trend. The pre-Victorian era saw a general decline in earrings due to the changing fashions of the time, as chic coiffures (headscarves) began to cover the ears. However, Queen Victoria began to adorn her ears with pendant style drop earrings, and long earrings set with many luxuriant gemstones. Because the Queen had significant power and influence across Europe, she had a huge direct effect on fashions of the time. we soon saw lobe piercings once again be in vogue, with the pendant drop especially favoured. She reintroduced this practice during her Coronation as she wanted to wear a pair of very rarely used earrings from the Royal collection and so had her ears pierced for the occasion.
Much later on, after World War 2, around the 1950’s there was a boom in the economy and women started spending more money and time focusing on their looks, and this is where we see another surge in the ear piercing trend. Typically it was a single lobe, and surprisingly it was a lot of clip on piercings. Over the years the trend of ear of single lobe piercings stayed, (whether real or fake), and choices of jewellery saw a demand in larger, showier pieces. Rings in the lobes were also a hugely popular choice.
During the late 70’s and 80’s ear piercings started to become more popular in general, especially amongst gay men and teenage girls. This is where we see a trend of multiple lobe, and upper ear piercings become in demand. The large statement pieces became replaced with much smaller earrings made of gemstones and pearls. During this decade was when we saw another increase of men having their lobes pierced. George Michael is an excellent example, as he adorned his piercing with a simple gold ring.
However there was a lack of brick-and-mortar piercing studios during this time, and at-home piercings were quite the norm. Over time, piercing studios began to pop up around the UK and become more normalized. The second ever piercing studio in the UK was the London Piercing Clinic. The founder and owner was the famous Mr Sebastian – The father of the UK body piercing industry. Despite not being the first, they were the first ever studio to have a high street presence and address. Set up in May 1988, it helped to make waves not just across the piercing industry, but in popularising and normalising body piercings across the UK and in popular culture.
Since the rise of social media since the late 2000s, body modification and especially body piercings are becoming more and more accepted and popular every day. It doesn’t take long once walking out of your front door to spot someone with their ears pierced, whether they be a man or woman. Often you might notice multiple lobe piercings, or even multiple or various piercings scattered across the ears. And here at Rogue, we perform lobe piercings on people as young as 8, and our eldest client was 92. Lobe piercings are becoming more versatile as we go along, with a huge range of jewellery and placements now available. Gone are the days of a standard single lobe piercing – Now we are getting creative with stacks, triangles and other styles of ear curations.
You can book your appointments via our website – Click HERE to book!
You can also follow us on instagram.
Thank you for reading! We will be back next Friday with another blog 🙂
— Jay <3