Jain art - Celestial performer Kapasutra manuscript folio Gujarat 1490
I found an interesting blog that has some musing on late period Indian garb. I'm not sure when I found this blog. I'm pretty sure I got there through a tab explosion one night while researching choli patterns. Due to my bust exceeding my rib cage by a significant value, I am on a never ending quest to find a period choli that a) I can sew and pattern myself, and b) supports my bust, or at least doesn't look saggy/sack like. But I digress, the blog in question is written by a Laurel type from Meridies (I think) who appears to be into cooking, and late period Indian (16th century, heavy persian influence).
While browsing her back catalog of posts, I found one on late period earrings. Her main focus was the revelation regarding the pointy ones you see in the upper ear. (read it here). During her discussion, and within a different post about garbing for a feast she ran, she references hoop earrings. She also has a post about some lovely hoop laurel earrings she made out of femo and beetle wings. She offers two explanations for the shape; first they may be stretching hoops, or second they may be loops that depend from the ear. She seems to favour the second type.
I have been researching jewellery myself and I would suggest the earrings in question are stretching hoops. In the images below (yes, I've posted it before) you can see both wealthy women and nuns. The nuns, who have limited worldly goods, have earlobes that are clearly stretched and dangle loosely without the bulk of the earring seen in the women in the right.
Detail from a folio from a Kalpasutra Manuscript. Gujarat, 1350. Ink and opaque watercolor on palm leaf. Page 86 in Indian Painting, 1000-1700, by Pratapaditya Pal. ISBN: 0810834655
The stretched earlobes could be explained by the weight of gold loops exerting pressure on the skin over time (recall seeing overly stretched and grotesque old 'lady' ears?) however the ascetics don't appear to be that old. In the next image from the Ajanta caves, you can clearly see the earlobe stretched around the hoop on the lady on the left.
Also, this group of statues from Khajuraho shows a beautiful lady wearing disks served by an attendant whos ears droop.
I do not plan on stretching my earlobes anytime in the near future, so I will stick to the more dangle type of earring such as those below.