Jewels gems

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Importance of C17th Earrings and Dress Ornaments

In the C17th a woman always donned her earrings whether dressed or undressed. By day fake pearl earrings and paste earrings to coordinate with clothing were acceptable. Fine diamond jewellery was kept for evening and embroidered stomachers which formed part of the dress frontage, could be decorated by jewels. Suites of left and right coordinating jewelled pieces called dress ornaments decreased in size as they were placed down the stomacher. Sometimes the sleeves or skirts were decorated with smaller matching brooches.

Gems and Pearls Real and Fake

Jewels have always been used as love tokens and whilst many pieces were fine gems and precious metals, good fake jewellery intended to deceive existed. True gemstones and pearls originated from the east and were bought chiefly by the Italians. The Italian merchants then sold the goods on in Europe. Good glass imitations were often used and sometimes with intent as in royal funerary robes and children's jewellery.
Flawless, round, natural, large white pearls were prized more than precious gemstones. The finest of pearls were provided by South India and the Persian Gulf. The Italians, particularly the Venetians and people from Murano, could make imitation glass gems and pearls that were very good likenesses of the real jewels. Recipes for false pearls existed in 1300 when white powdered glass mixed with albumen (egg white) and snail slime, produced beads that were used as imitation pearls.

C13th Medieval Sumptuary Laws

Sumptuary Laws in C13th Medieval Europe came into force and capped luxury in dress and jewellery. Townspeople in France, were not allowed to wear girdles or coronals made of pearls, gemstones, gold or silver. Similar laws existed in England. The fact that these laws forbade yeomen and artisans from wearing gold and silver indicates how the status of jewellery and sumptuous dress had become widespread beyond just the nobility.

Italian Gold and Roman Coinage

Eight centuries BC the Italian Etruscans in the Tuscany region produced granulated textured gold work. They made large fibulae or clasps, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. They also made pendants that were hollow and could be filled with perfume. The Italians are still renowned for high quality stylish trend making gold work today.
In coinage the Romans used 18 and 24 carat gold. Being fairly easily available the coinage was the craftsman's raw material for decorative jewel work. 2000 years ago the Romans were using sapphires from Sri Lanka, cloudy emeralds, garnets, amber and Indian diamond crystals. When England was under Roman rule, fossilized wood called jet from the North of England was carved into interesting pieces.

Gold in Egypt 3000 BC

In the ancient world gold was the preferred metal for making jewellery. It was rare, did not tarnish and best of all it was malleable, so it could be worked fairly easily. Magnificent bracelets, pendants, necklaces, rings, armlets, earrings, diadems, head ornaments, pectoral ornaments and collars of gold were all produced in ancient Egypt, the land of the Pharaohs.
Excavations by Howard Carter in 1922 led to the great discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb and many gold funerary artefacts, all showing the art work of ancient Egypt.