Tudor Jewelry for the Rich
Tudor 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, gilded metals, ivory, jet together with precious and semi-precious stones were used to make Tudor jewelry. Faceted jewels using precious jewels such as diamonds and emeralds were still fairly simple flat table cuts.
Tudor Jewelry for the Poor
Poor Tudors had to made do with wooden beads. Cheaper alternatives to jewels were made of glass, bone, mother of pearl, metal and horn were also used to create Tudor jewelry. 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.
The Jewels and Precious Stones used to make Tudor Jewelry
The precious jewels used to make Tudor jewelry 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 Tudor era and worn by both Anne Boleyn and her daughter Queen Elizabeth I. Pearls were were worn in a string or as a single pearl or a combination of both as illustrated in the above picture. The jewels and precious stones used for the jewelry of Royalty and the Nobility in the Tudor era are included in the following list:
Semi-precious jewels were also used to make jewelry in the Tudor era and the most popular stones are included in the following list:
List of Types of Tudor Jewelry
The following list of types of jewelry were the pieces worn by the Tudors
- Rosary Beads
- Decorative Mirrors / Looking Glasses
- Ear strings
Tudor Jewelry - Brooches
A brooch was a decorative pin designed to be attached to garments. The brooch was often decorated with enamel or with gemstones and used as an ornament, or sometimes to serve a practical function as a fastening for a cloaks. 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.
Tudor Jewelry - Gold Chains
Chains were made in gold and often used as a symbol of high office. A livery collar or chain of office was a collar or heavy gold chain which was worn as insignia of office or a mark of fealty. The Collar of Esses was the heavy gold chain which was worn by Sir Thomas More symbolizing his office of as Lord Chancellor of England. Other gold chains of office included the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Tudor Jewelry - Earrings
Earrings - also referred to as ear-pickes. Earrings were worn by both Tudor men and women. Men wore just one earring, usually in the left ear. Made off gold and encrusted with precious jewels. Earrings became popular during the Elizabethan era of the Tudor dynasty when cumbersome headdresses were no longer in fashion. Men wore their hair short and women wore their hair swept up as can be seen in the above image of Queen Elizabeth I allowing for display of earrings. Earrings could be worn as a single ring or jewel. Pendant earrings were also worn.
Tudor Jewelry - Bracelets
Bracelets were made of gold and silver encrusted with precious jewels. Bracelets of the Tudor period were often multiple strands of pearls or other semi-precious stones which were usually created in matched pairs and wrapped around the wrist.
Tudor Jewelry - Necklaces or Carcanets (Wide Choker necklaces)
Necklaces were made of gold and silver and encrusted with precious jewels and worn by men and women. The word "necklace" was not used during the Tudor period. A necklace was called a "carcanet" which was like a wide choker. There were two main necklace designs. The short carcanet, or choker necklace, which was usually worn around the base of the throat or on collar of a high necked doublet. The necklace favored by men had a heavy chain whereas women wore a delicate filigree chain. Women also wore a longer, rope style necklace which could be draped up at the center or the side with a brooch.
Tudor Jewelry - Pendants
Pendants were elaborate creations of gold, jewelry, enamel and pearls which replaced the brooch in popularity towards the later part of the Tudor period. Pendants could be worn attached by a ribbon around the neck or attached to various items or parts of clothing such as hats, girdles, sleeves and gowns. Pendants were worn in the form of initials, crosses, cameos and jewels which were suspended from ribbons or chains. Pendants were also worn adorned by miniature portraits such as the pendant displaying a miniature of King Henry VIII given to Jane Seymour and wrenched from her throat by Anne Boleyn. These miniature pendants were called "Tablets" the Tudor word used for a locket or a pendant which opened to show a picture or scene.
Tudor Jewelry - Pins
Pins were made in gold or silver and sometimes studded with jewels. Pins could be used as practical fastenings or as decorations.
Tudor Jewelry - Girdles
Girdles were the Tudor form of a belt, worn by women, which followed the pointed waistline of the bodice, which usually had a triangular clasp at the front of the girdle. Tudor women attached various items to their girdles such as hand mirrors, fans, pomanders and prayer books.
Tudor Jewelry - Tudor Watches
The pocket watch was invented during the Tudor period of the Elizabethans. Tudor Watches were garnished with jewels and worn suspended from pendants or in brooches.
Tudor Jewelry - Rings
Rings included solitaires, clusters, wedding or signet rings and were made with gold and silver and decorated with precious jewels such as diamonds in Tudor jewelry.
Tudor Jewelry - Earrings
Earrings - also referred to as ear-pickes. Tudor jewelry worn by men and women as a single gold hoop or a pendant with jewels. Ear strings were also worn as items of jewelry which were a black string threaded through a hole in the left ear to hang sometimes to the shoulder.
Tudor Jewelry - Rosary Beads
Rosary Beads were a string of beads of 5 or 15 decades on which prayers were counted. Rosary Beads were made of precious stones but also colored glass.
Tudor Jewelry - Buckles
Buckles were not only practical but also used as ornaments and jewelry for shoes and belts.
Tudor Jewelry - Buttons
Buttons were 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. Buttons could be used as practical fastenings or as decorations in Tudor jewelry.
Tudor Jewelry - Pomanders
A Pomander was a round, highly decorative case, opening with a hinge, which contained perfume or sweet-smelling herbs. Men wore pomanders suspended from a chain or a belt and women attached them to their girdles.
Tudor Jewelry - Mirrors
Decorative Mirrors / Looking Glasses were hung from girdles, as part as fans or worn in brooches.
Tudor Jewelry - Billiments
Billiments were strands of gold work and jewels used as Tudor Jewelry and sewn to the neckline of garments of clothing
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