How to Make Medieval Jewelry

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Medieval jewelry can be defined as a distinctive form of personal adornment worn during the Middle Ages. Precious metals and precious or semi-precious stones were used to ornament necklaces, bracelets, brooches and other pieces. Paintings offer clues to the look and feel of medieval jewelry. They reveal the connection between personal display, social rank and symbols. Here are some guidelines for duplicating this style of jewelry.

Things You'll Need

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Precious stones or imitations
  • Semi-precious stones or imitations
  • Pearls or imitations
  • Study the styles of the period. Old paintings are a great place to begin. Numerous paintings depict subjects in full court or ceremonial dress with considerable amounts of jewelry. Pieces include necklaces, chains, bracelets, brooches and other forms still seen today. These pieces are normally quite massive and feature gold or silver filigree. The filigreed pieces are set with large stones and joined together by smaller stones or pearls.

  • Pay attention to symbolic value. An exact modern reproduction would require spending enormous sums of money. In medieval times, jewelry represented the social standing of the wearer. Heavy collars and necklaces were a form of insignia. You can replace large precious stones with less expensive imitations. However, you must retain the look and feel of the original. Join together your stones with a number of gold chains. These help convey a sense of size and serve to replicate the qualities of the medieval pieces. Multiple chains make the piece appear larger and weightier. The viewer is given the sense of great value.

  • Alternate shapes among your gold and silver pieces. Chains and bracelets normally feature a pattern of larger and smaller filigreed pieces.The variation in size helps to create a sense of abundance and splendor. Focus your piece on a single feature. Let the entire design work toward a single exceptionally large stone, or imitation stone, that dangles from the rest of the piece. Smaller filigreed sections can be similarly highlighted. Add a drop pearl or jewel to an oval or square of gold. Place pearls and other small stones in vertical rows in between the chains that link together the major sections of the piece. These smaller ornaments help to enhance the sense of richness in your jewelry.

  • Add some color to your medieval jewelry. Colored stones were very popular in the Middle Ages. Rubies, spinels, garnets and sapphires appeared frequently. Diamonds, however, were rarely used. The techniques of diamond cutting were not perfected until later. Rubies or similar-looking stones, were the emblems of kings and queens. Select a cabochon stone in preference to a delicately faceted example. These stones look larger and their irregular forms better convey the sense of authentic medieval jewelry.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can buy reproductions of medieval jewelry online or at major museum shops.
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