The trend of intimate jewelry is inherently rooted in body piercings, since piercing is the only way that intimate jewelry can be worn. While the modern forms of intimate jewelry stem from the pop culture rising in the US and other western nations around the 1970s and 80s, it has long been worn since pre-historic times, whether as an expression of the self, as religious obligation, or as a societal ritual. In one form or the other, intimate jewelry has been there; be it something as outrageous as genital piercing or relatively subtle as navel piercing.
While studying its origins in exact chronology has been deemed difficult by historians owing to authenticity issues, there have been separate accounts stating the origins and culture of intimate jewelry, specifically genital jewelry, in various kingdoms and regional tribes, some of which have been discussed below.
South East Asia
The earliest accounts of intimate jewelry lie in South East Asia, the present day India and Indonesia. The practice of male genital piercing in order to wear small rings date as far back as 700 AD and was called the “Apadravya”. Furthermore, there was the Palang or Ampallang, belonging to Borneo, an Indonesian Island, also involving genital piercing to don understated intimate jewelry. In order to gain acceptance, it was reasoned as a symbol of man’s power as the head of the family, but the actual reason has always been sexual pleasure as put forward by historians.
Furthermore, in the Polynesian Islands situated in the Pacific, the practice of Guiche piercing has been a longstanding one, spanning over centuries. Both males and females got this piercing done and it involved those areas of genitals that are normally unreachable, hence involved extreme intricacy and accuracy, being done by seasoned experts only. Also, in ancient Rome, the Centurion soldiers used nipple piercing, adorned with small rings, as an expression of their strength and power.
Comparatively recent history of genital piercing revolves around the famed “Prince Albert” piercing, named after Queen Victoria’s husband. It came about in the early 19th century and the purpose was quite different than solely adorning the genitals. It was meant to conceal genitals that became too prominent in the Prince’s signature fitted pants.
Recent History in the West
Intimate jewelry was largely out of sight from the western societies for quite a long time, only to emerge back during the 70s and 80s, as part of the pop and punk culture; in much modernized forms. Since the pop culture was largely prevalent among the lower classes, trends it brought with it such as body piercing jewelry permeated the masses making it a widely followed trend. Today, it is no longer seen as a taboo or any specific adherence to a religious ritual or cultural connotation. The most common reason presented for having gotten genital piercing is self expression and individuality. The ones that get body modifications, specifically genital piercings, as part of any ritualistic adherence to the past, are referred to as “modern primitives”.