William Shakespeare Probably Wore This Piece Of Jewelry

English playwright William Shakespeare could have worn a piece of jewelry that you may not have noticed, and it was depicted in one of his most famous portraits. The Chandos portrait, named after the Duke of Chandos, who once owned the painting, shows Shakespeare wearing a golden hoop earring on his left lobe. Painter John Taylor created the portrait sometime between 1600 and 1610, and it is believed that Shakespeare may have even posed for the artist while it was being painted (via National Portrait Gallery).

Wearing earrings has been a practice that dates back centuries, and men were the ones who usually wore them back then. As opposed to serving as an accessory though, they were usually worn to symbolize religion, status, or personal beliefs, as reported by Daily Pioneer. Some men who were known to wear earrings include pirates, soldiers, and rulers such as Julius Caesar and King Tutankhamen.

William Shakespeare's gold hoop

We only know of William Shakespeare's appearance through the portraits that we see today. The Chandos portrait is the only one that shows Shakespeare wearing a hoop earring, though. According to History, men who wore earrings in the 17th century symbolized their bohemian, artistic, or carefree lifestyle and that may just be the reason behind Shakespeare's gold earring.

Another popular depiction of William Shakespeare is the Droeshout portrait, which was an engraving on the first page of the "First Folio," a collection of his works published after his death. In that portrait, however, he wasn't wearing an earring.

We may never know whether William Shakespeare regularly sported the golden hoop earring, but if he was painted to life in the Chandos portrait, we know that he at least wore it once. Another notable figure, poet, and explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh, was painted in 1588 wearing what looks like a pearl earring on his left ear (via National Portrait Gallery).