Elizabeth Ist coat of arms

Elizabethan Jewelry

Queen Elizabeth Ist

"Queen Elizabeth Ist"

Clothing and Fashion - Elizabethan Jewelry
Elizabethan jewelry was similar to the type of jewelry worn in the modern age - but it was only available to the Nobility or Upper Class. Gold, silver, copper and copper-gilded metals, ivory, jet together with precious and semi-precious stones were used in Elizabethan jewelry. Cheaper alternatives made of glass, bone, horn and even wood were also used.

Items used in Elizabethan Jewelry

  • Brooch - Used in a variety of ways with a pin or clasp and worn on various items of clothing around the neck, on hats and on buckles
  • Chains - made in gold and often used as a symbol of high office
  • Earrings - also referred to as ear-pickes. Worn by men and women
  • Bracelet / Armlet - Gold and silver with precious jewels
  • Necklace - Gold and silver with precious jewels
  • Pendant - Replaced the brooch in popularity. Worn as crosses, cameos and jewels suspended from ribbons or chains. They also featured miniature portraits
  • Pin - Made in gold or siver and sometimes studded with jewels
  • Watch - Garnished with jewels and worn suspended from pendants or in brooches
  • Ring - Solitaires, clusters, wedding or signate rings. Gold and silver with precious jewels
  • Earrings - also referred to as ear-pickes. Worn by men and women as a single gold hoop or a pendant with jewels

Other Decorative Items used as Elizabethan Jewelry
These were cheaper and more available to the less wealthy:

  • Rosary Beads - Rosary Beads were made of precious stones but also colored glass
  • Carcanet - A name for close-fitting gold necklaces, bracelets and hair ornaments, often featuring costly jewels
  • Buckles - Ornaments for shoes and belts
  • Buttons - Highly decorative items covered with fabrics and made in a vast variety of materials including
    gold, silver, copper, bone, jewels, horn, mother of pearl, jet, ivory, glass or wood. Buttons were worn on every sort of outer clothing including hats
  • Pomander - A round, highly decorative case container perfume or sweet-smelling herbs
  • Mirrors / Looking Glasses - Hung from girdles, as part as fans or worn in brooches
  • Billiments - Strand of goldwork and jewels sewn to the neckline of garments of clothing
  • Ear string - A black string threaded through a hole in the left ear to hang sometimes to the shoulder

The Gems and Precious Stones used in Elizabethan Jewelry
The gems and precious stones used in the Elizabethan era are included in the following list. The stones were surrounded by plain gold which became more intricate towards the end of the 1500's. Pearls were one of the most popular items of jewelry in the Elizabethan era. Pearls were a fashionable and expensive item of jewelry and worn in a string or as a single pearl.

  • Diamonds
  • Emeralds
  • Sapphires
  • Rubies
  • Topaz
  • Opals

Semi-Precious Stones
Semi-precious stones used in the Elizabethan era are included in the following list:

  • Turquoise

  • Onyx

  • Carnelian

  • Bloodstone

  • Amber

  • Crystal

  • Coral

  • Agate

These cheaper stones were used singly and in strings. Goldwork was also popular, enamelled with colored glass or featuring cameos. Colored glass beads were also fashioned into jewelry for outside use, reducing the risk of loss or theft. They were also used as rosary beads. Glass beads, called bugles were  used as ornaments, especially for women’s hair. Other beads were made of mother of pearl, metal, bone and even wood.

Elizabethan Jewelry - a comment dating back to 1583.
During the Elizabethan era pamphlets were printed and distributed commenting on life in Elizabethan England. A writer of one such pamphlet was a well travelled Londoner called Philip Stubbes. He was believed to have been born c1555 and died c1610. He was well educated and attended both Oxford and Cambridge University. He was also a strict Elizabethan Puritan and held firm views on any social practices which, in his view were, unfitting  true Christians. He named his work " The Anatomie of Abuses " in which he strongly criticised many of the fashions and clothing worn during the Elizabethan era. It was entered in the Stationers' Register on 1 March 1583. This pamphlet includes his view and some valuable information about Elizabethan Jewelry

"Their fingers are decked with gold, silver and precious stones, their wrists with bracelets and armlets of gold, and other preciouse Jewels: their hands arecovered with their sweet washed gloves, improdered with gold, silver and whatnot; & to such abhomination is it grown, as they must have their looking glasses caryed with them whersoever they go. And good reason, for els how could they see the devil in them?"

"Another sorte of dissolute minions & wanton Sempronians (for I can term them no better) are so far bewitched, as they are not ashamed to make holes in their eares, wherat they hang rings, and other Jewels of gold and precious stones. But what this signifieth in them I will houlde my peace, for the thing it selfe speaketh sufficiently. But because this is not so much frequented amongest Women as Men, I will say noe more thereof, until l further occasion be offred."

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