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
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.
Medieval Jewelry – Frankish Disk
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
Early Medieval Crown
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.
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.
A typical example of a medieval Italian Kings crown
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.
Guild Shop Signs
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
Byzantine Ring *typical design style of the Byzantine period
This article on medieval jewellery was written to give you an could oversight on the types of medieval jewellery available during medieval times.
Medieval Religious Cross – Medieval Jewelry
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.