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Five pieces of 14th century jewellery I would really like to recreate.

Aurora Simmons

As someone who often makes historical reproductions, I find myself often sitting around drooling over spectacular pieces that I would really love to recreate. I can't work on big pieces purely on spec very often, due to real-life limitations on my time and money but all of these are pieces that I could and would love to make given the chance. 

I thought I would take a moment to share with you the top five of the coolest pieces I've been looking at lately. And if something strikes your fancy as a piece you would like to own, just let me know. 

 The Signet Ring of the Black Prince. Late 14th Century

The Signet Ring of the Black Prince. Late 14th Century

This is a pretty glorious piece. The metal is gold and it once held a ruby which has since been chipped off. Is appears that the lettering would once have had enamel all around it but enamel is delicate and has been lost. It's a gorgeous piece, the lettering especially is so well executed, and I love the detail of the beading down the center of the band. This would likely have been cast using the lost wax casting technique and probably engraved as well. It's a very high culture piece obviously, since it was owned by a prince, and I know that I would have a hard time creating a good reproduction. This is probably the master work of a jewellery who had been in the craft for 15 to 20 years. And I have only been at it for 8 years. Just give me time though... it would definitely be possible for me to make something a little simpler than this in sterling silver. And wow would it rock.

 14th Century English Annular Gold Brooch.

14th Century English Annular Gold Brooch.

I just love this piece, it is simple, but elegant, and lettering, though very difficult to reproduce is quite rewarding to create. It was a pretty common form of brooch in the period. It would be easy enough to create one in silver to avoid the massive metal costs of crafting it in gold.

I actually made a similar one a few years ago for the birthday of a friend of mine, author and medievalist, Christian Cameron. This is a pretty old picture but it should give you the general idea. I cast it in sterling silver and then had it plated gold. It is a bit hard to read but the brooch has the names of the Three Magi, written on it. Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar.

 A reproduction I made a few years ago.   

A reproduction I made a few years ago.

 

 English ring, 1250 - 1300, gold set with blue sapphire and purple sapphires.

English ring, 1250 - 1300, gold set with blue sapphire and purple sapphires.

This is a bit earlier, but I mean seriously I would wear this in the modern world no problem. The thing I think is the most fun about it, is how the stones are really allowed to be the focus of the piece. It is not so well known that sapphires, which most people think of as blue, actually come in many different colours, i.e. purple, white, yellow pink and green as well as blue. In fact the stone we usually call the ruby, is technically a type of sapphire with a very pure red colour. This whole group of stones are classified as corundum. The more you know.... If I was to reproduce this, it would be all about the gems, there are certainly less expensive gems that I could use to get a similar visual effect, and I could make the ring in silver instead of gold, but either way, it's a pretty epic piece.

 1350 to 1450, gold clasped hands brooch. English

1350 to 1450, gold clasped hands brooch. English

This is a simple fun design, I might go ahead and make this one because it is just such a great little piece. I often have mixed feelings about the heart symbol, but in this case I think it would be a really romantic gift for a historically inclined loved one. Because of the clasped hands and the heart it is thought to originally have been a betrothal gift. It also has the very nifty detail of the buttoned sleeves on the arms. So cool.

 14th century plaque belt, France

14th century plaque belt, France

Last but definitely not least, this is a sweet belt, currently at the Cluny Museum. I was not able to find much information about it online in English and my French is definitely not up to snuff, but I just can't help but want to recreate it. Some of you may have seen the belt I created in October in my last blog post ( just scroll down) so I have some experience with really elaborate belts, but these fittings are probably all gold. Each one is riveted individually the the leather of the belt, and then the whole thing is backed with fabric or another piece of leather to keep the rivets from  rubbing the clothing beneath. It might be set on velvet instead of leather, but it's hard to tell from the picture. Here is a close up, you can see the stitching around each edge holding the backing on.

 Just look at those details

Just look at those details

All in all, I can't think of many things I would rather do than recreate beautiful jewellery of the past. I just need an excuse....