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Watch this British Museum Curator Talk about Medieval Jewelry


Jewelry has a long, long history.  Back in the medieval era, people wore jewelry not just for pleasure. It was to show your status and wealth. There were also deeply personal reasons including the desire for safety and protection. This was a time of great epidemics like the plague and infant mortality was high. No vaccines, no antibiotics.

Watch British Museum curator, Naomi Speakman explain some of the fascinating things about medieval jewelry.   Why was so much precious metal and gems used so much in the medieval times?  It wasn't just because these were beautiful or that the owners wanted to flaunt their wealth. Symbolism was key.

Today, lapidary is all about the physical properties of gemstones and the various techniques of cutting, grinding and polishing in order to make them into decorative objects.

But lapidary to people in the medieval period was about something totally different.   They were much more concerned with the gemstone's "magical" powers like the truth telling gem or the toadstone for repelling poison. And no, the toadstone was not from a toad although medieval folks thought so! She explains what it really is.

What was interesting is how few earrings survived.  Plenty of rings though!  My favorite was that pointed diamond reing. Note it was octahedrally cut not octagonally cut.

The examples from the British Museum collection definitely showed skilled craftmanship and talent which all handmade jewelry makers can appreciate today.



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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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7 comments:

  1. How interesting! Thanks for the post!

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  2. Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

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  3. The amount of detail put into those items. I would love to see a medieval jewelers bench just to see what kind of tools were used to create these incredible pieces!

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    1. Probably the same kind of tools minus the electric powered ones!

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  4. Very interesting. Coincidentally I was talking about Medieval jewellery guilds to my students just a few hours ago.

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  5. Finally able to view this and find it fascinating! Thanks for wonderful eclectic topics in your blog!

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