This article is from the Piercing FAQ, by Anne Greenblatt with numerous contributions by others.
by "Boy Brent" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A hundred years ago they were piercing a lot more than their ears. In
the 1890s nipple piercing was very much in vogue for Victorian women.
In _Anatomy and Destiny_ (Bobbs-Merrill, 1974, p. 97), Stephen Kern
"In the late 1890s the 'bosom ring' came into fashion briefly and
sold in expensive Parisian jewelry shops. These 'anneaux de sein'
were inserted through the nipple, and some women wore one on either
side linked with a delicate chain. The rings enlarged the breasts
and kept them in a state of constant excitation...The medical
community was outraged by these cosmetic procedures, for they
represented a rejection of traditional conceptions of the purpose of
a woman's body."
In _The Golden Age of Erotica_ (Paperback Library, 1968, p. 264), by
"No more perfect example of Victorian extremism can be found than
the unbelievable breast piercing craze that swept London in the
1890s. This barbaric practice achieved fantastic popularity among
seemingly sane, civilized English women, who submitted to the
excruciating pain of having their nipples pierced in order to insert
decorative gold and jeweled rings.
"In an attempt to explain what had driven so many females to embrace
such a crackpot fad, a fashionable London modiste wrote a letter to
a popular magazine, which stated in part, "For a long time could not
understand why I should consent to such a painful operation without
sufficient reason. I soon, however, came to the conclusion that many
ladies are ready to bear the passing pain for the sake of love. I
found that the breasts of those who wore rings were incomparably
rounder and fuller developed than those who did not. My doubts were
now at an end...So I had my nipples pierced, and when the wounds
healed, I had rings inserted...With regard to the experience of
wearing these rings, I can only say that they are not in the least
uncomfortable or painful. On the contrary, the slight rubbing and
slipping of the rings causes in me an extremely titillating feeling,
and all my colleagues to whom I have spoken on this subject have
confirmed my opinion."