The Canary Islands are an authentic jewel of nature. But the real jewels of the archipelago are Canarian earrings. These crescent moon-shaped hoops with delicate filigree are one of the most representative ornamental objects of the Islands. In 2500 BCE, Sumerian women wore these special pieces of jewellery, and their appearance on the Islands goes back to the time of the conquistadors. Although they are usually made of gold or silver, they can also be found in other materials. Whatever their composition, they are a unique piece of jewellery that transmits all the authenticity and beauty of the Islands.
A story that began in Mesopotamia
The origins of earrings or hoops to decorate the ears are very remote. Ever since the Bronze Age and in subsequent civilisations, this item has been present in numerous archaeological excavations of cultures going back thousands of years.
In ancient Mesopotamia, and specifically in the Sumerian city of Ur, hoops have been found shaped like crescent moons that date from between 2600 and 2500 BCE. During that period, women used a varied range of gold and silver jewellery to adorn their attire and faces. And this particular jewellery item has been found in many other places, too, as its beauty led it to spread around the world.
A jewellery item of great cultural wealth
In the Canary Islands, as a result of the conquest and colonisation by Castile, this ancient piece of jewellery comes in a rich variety of shapes and precious raw materials. So much so that emigration and cultural influences are reflected in the day-to-day work of the meticulous gold and silversmiths of the islands.
A constant fashion feature
Whereas the garments used on the Islands have evolved over the years, in accordance with European fashion, Canarian earrings have managed to become a symbol of the archipelago’s identity that has stayed in vogue until now.
Without a doubt, this is a fashion that has remained intact after many years. In fact, in the year 2008, the exhibition “Zarcillos” by the Museum of History and Anthropology of Tenerife affirmed that the custom of perforating the earlobe to hang ornaments from it goes back more than 5,000 years. This exhibition shows the origins, evolution and variants of these genuinely Canarian earrings.
As beautiful as they are popular
The so-called “Canarian earring” or “crescent moon earring” is the most popular and affordable version sold on the archipelago, and its shape is reminiscent of some Sumerian earrings. It was first mentioned in 1885 in the book “Usos y costumbres de la población campesina de Gran Canaria” by Víctor Grau-Bassas. The pages of this work also include illustrations on the way the peasant men and women of the Islands dressed.
These circular earrings are generally made of gold. When fastened, they form a rose with a crescent moon-based design. There is also another kind of earring known as the “bow” earring, but the price of these pieces is much higher and as a result, they are not found so frequently.
100% from the Islands
The earrings considered traditionally Canarian are hoops and elongated teardrop earrings. They both vary in terms of materials, size, studs and even dangles. The former are also known as S-hoops, S-earrings, Canarian earrings, Cuban or Creole earrings. The latter kind are made up of two articulated pieces. The upper part is in contact with the earlobe, and the lower part is the dangle, fixed directly through a loop.
The variety of the typical earrings of the islands is undeniable. Different designs, innovations and artistic engravings, but with one very special thing in common: they all transmit Canarian authenticity.