When I received my review copy of I Love Those Earrings; A Popular History from Ancient to Modern by Jane Merrill and Chris Filstrup, I was excited to get into the history of these jewels. At the age of five, I became obsessed with earrings and when I turned seven, could no longer imagine having bare earlobes and concocted a intricate and master plan to get my ears pierced. The plan revolved around going over my mother’s head to my grandmother—who went along with the scheme, when she could no longer go watch me scotch tape paper cuts-out of flowers and leaves to my lobes.
While my mother had a thing about infections and alcohol swabs, my grandmother believed in “never leaving the house without earrings and lipstick” to add a little sparkle to your face because you “never know who you are going to meet.”
Published Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., the book is a not only a timeline of the history of various periods of earrings but is a tome rich in the romanticism that comes with as author Janie Merrill refers to “the women of history”, and explores the jewels of royalty, celebrities and collectors throughout the ages.
Although I felt compelled to read all about the earrings that ranged from Byzantine through contemporary designs and wished I could try on and play with many of the styles that illustrate the book, I was most taken by Merrill’s own relationship with her earrings. I loved reading about how she began collecting earrings and the changes she witnessed in society. Her time in Paris was enchanting as was a peek in to her jewelry box. She explains, “When I look in my jewelry box, which is filled with earrings of eras and styles, it’s like going to a museum of decorative arts.” Merrill takes us through cultures and customs and in one one of my favorite chapters gives us a glimpse of of other women’s connection to earrings. “Woman Talk About Their Own Earrings,” include short stories, poems and anecdotes by friends, family and women in a diverse range of careers who talk about their favorite earrings, the time they got their ears pierces and other tales of earrings lost and found. It was a refreshing and authentic addition to the book and a truly fun read.
The meaning and symbolism of earrings depicted throughout history and how they related to the styles of dress, adornment and even portraitures of earlier times was intriguing as was the renowned houses who created famed earrings for the legendary women featured in the book. See below, pages from the book with earring styles from various time periods.