The Cheapside Hoard – 17th Century English Jewelry

In 1912, workmen discovered a box of jewelry hidden under the floorboards of a house in Cheapside. The jewelry has been dated to between 1600-1650, and it was the work of a jeweler who supplied jewelry to wealthy merchants and their wives. This discovery, which included about 230 pieces of jewelry, is known as the Cheapside Hoard. If you're interested in the history of the discovery, I recommend you visit the link.

Many of the pieces are displayed at the Museum of London, which Mick and I visited when we were there in July. Having read about the Cheapside Hoard, I was excited to see these pieces. What struck me more than anything else is that they are so similar to pieces we wear today. Goes to show there's no such thing as an "original" design.

My apologies for the quality of the photos. They were taken of the jewelry in cabinets, and in a dark room, so they hardly show the color and quality of the gems.

Cheapside_amethyst_earring

The earring above is comprised of iolites, and the dangling gem is an amethyst. Like most of the pieces in the collection, gold is the primary metal used in the designs.

Cheapside_aquamarine_earring

This is an especially striking piece. I'm not 100% sure what the gemstones are, but they look like aquamarines and pearls. They make me want to run out to my jewelry studio and create my own version of these beautiful earrings.

Cheapside_crosses

Many of the pieces in the Cheapside Hoard feature enamel over gold. These cross earrings are one of the more exquisite examples.

Cheapside_emerald_rings

These rings are made with emerald cabochons. Like the earrings above, they make me want to try to recreate them. I have talked about the fact that my main character wears a ring her brother made for her and have even created sketches for it. However, after seeing these rings, I wonder if Isabel Wilde didn't wear one.

Cheapside_pin

This is a simple pin that looks to be turquoise, or perhaps enamel, set in gold.

Cheapside_sapphire_ring

This ring was one of my favorite pieces because of its simplicity. It's a beautiful sapphire set in gold. Definitely something I could make for myself and similar to pieces I've already made.

More than anything, this collection of jewelry captures my imagination. It is an example of all the types of things my characters may have worn. My dream is to own a piece of jewelry made during this time period, but that will require the selling of an awful lot of books. In the meantime, maybe I'll get in the studio and make my own.

Holly West

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