Medieval Jewelry

The use of medieval jewelry was relatively less during the early medieval times. However, as a result of contact with the East and increase in worldwide trade, the economic conditions of  Europe started improving from around the middle of the medieval times and it was from this point that the use of medieval jewelry also increased.

History of Medieval Jewelry

The use of jewelry has existed as long as human societies have existed. Thus the history of medieval jewelry can be traced back to pre-historic times. Brooches and bracelets were used  during the early medieval times as well but the actual culture of using precious stones and jewelry as a status symbol began in the late medieval times.

Medieval Jewelry - Medieval Brooch

This medieval Brooch was commonly worn throughout medieval times – Medieval Jewelry

Types of Medieval Jewelry

Various types of medieval jewelry were used during different eras of the medieval ages. For instance, round fibulae or brooches were popular ever since the Carolingian period. These  brooches were mostly circular in shape and usually decorated with stones and pearls. Various other types of medieval jewelry such as cluster brooches, bracelets, and wheel brooches were  used during late medieval times.

Popular Medieval Jewelry

Brooches were undoubtedly the most popular type of medieval jewelry, although they varied in style and composition during different medieval periods. During the late medieval times, it was  also fashion to decorate belts with gems. For women, use of medieval jewelry in the headgear they wore was also popular during the late medieval times.

  • Vikings were well known for their love of elaborate medieval jewelry
  • The use of Mosaic styles in jewelry was used commonly during the Byzantine era
  • As the medieval progressed and trade with the rest of the world increased so did the use of jewelry
  • Jewelry became a status symbol especially amongst nobility and royalty in later medieval times
  • Brooches were always a popular type of medieval jewelry especially during Viking and Carolingian periods

Medieval Jewelry Material Types

The most common types of materials used to make medieval jewelry were gold and silver. There was a relative scarcity of these metals during the early medieval times but they became widely  available during the middle and late medieval times. For decoration purposes, materials such as pearls, enamel, and various precious stones were used.

Medieval Jewelry - Frankish Disk

Image of a Medieval Frankish Disk – Medieval Jewelry

Who wore Medieval Jewelry?

The use of medieval jewelry was generally considered a status symbol during the medieval times. More precious stones and gems, such as sapphire and ruby, were restricted to the upper  classes. Not much is known about the use of jewelry among the common people who usually used jewelry only for important social occasions such as weddings, dances, and banquets.

Who Made medieval Jewelry?

Medieval goldsmiths made medieval jewelry using various techniques such as soldering, plating, and gilding. For instance, smouldering was the method used to join multiple sheets of metal to  create a single larger piece. These techniques were mainly aimed at improving the appearance of jewelry.

Byzantine Medieval Jewelry

This Byzantine ring is typical of the design style of medieval Jewelry during this period

Medieval Jewelry and Guilds

The culture of creating guilds for different professions was quite popular during the middle and late medieval times in Europe. These guilds were also created for the profession of medieval  jewelry and these were among the most important and wealthy guilds. Detailed records were retained about the members of the guild and their products.

Medieval Jewelry Summary

Medieval jewelry was relatively simple and consisted of precious stones during the early medieval times. However, use of silver and gold became popular during the middle and late medieval  times. It was also during this time that jewelry, just like general dressing, came to be associated with status symbols. Goldsmiths formed themselves into guilds which were quite wealthy  and powerful.

  • Gold and silver were commonly used in the making of medieval jewelry
  • Jewelry has been made from precious metals such as gold and silver from ancient times
  • Precious stones such as rubies and sapphires were restricted to the upper classes of medieval society
  • Medieval Kings showed off their wealth through their Jewelled Crowns and ceremonial dress
  • Medieval goldsmiths made Medieval jewellery and were part of a guild of Craftsmen
  • Soldering, Plating and Gilding were all methods used by medieval goldsmiths to make jewelry

This article on medieval jewellery was written to give you an could oversight on the types of medieval jewellery available during medieval times. Medieval jewellery was often made by  goldsmiths and other medieval craftsmen. If you’d like to learn more about medieval clothing accessories and people who made them such as Craftsmen like cobblers and goldsmiths please look  at the links at the bottom of this page or visit our medieval Craftsmen pages.

Medieval Jewelled Cross - Medieval Jewelry

Medieval Religious Cross – Medieval Jewelry