Medieval Jewelry was Created with Rudimentary Jewelry Tools that Represented the Dark Ages

medieval jewelry

The history of medieval jewelry reflects the influence of Christianity that permeated throughout the world. The jewelry during this time symbolized the Christian faith and the monasteries were responsible for producing the better part of the worlds jewelry.

Monasteries relied on learning different trades in order to support themselves financially.

Making jewelry was a very profitable enterprise.

Monasteries trained some of the best craftsman of the time.

The first independent jewelry guilds were created to support the training of new trainees.

The guilds also served to implement quality practices and inspections in order to maintain high standards. With the growing demands for jewelry and a booming population sophisticated forgeries began to appear.

The guild perceived these forgeries as a threat to their booming business.

Medieval jewelry consisted of brooches and waist wear. It was heavy; and designed to command attention.

As other cultures before this time, superstition affected the selection of materials used to make jewelry.

Many people during this time wore amber to protect them from evil energy. Medieval jewelry was fairly basic because the jewelry making tools and jewelry making supplies were fairly rudimentary.

Also because, the people that had and wore jewelry had not been exposed to materials and creative methods around the world.

After 1300 glass became available and artisans made glass beads that were incorporated into jewelry. This allowed for greater use of color and texture in jewelry design.

Historically the Middle Ages were affected with natural disasters and plague. Hardship, religious oppression, superstition, fear and despair were at the center of this time in history.

Climate change and its relationship to human activity is not a new phenomenon. After the collapse of Western Rome around 400 AD, the climate of Europe began to cool, causing a mass migration known as the "Dark Ages.”

With the cool weather agricultural activity began to falter, which led to the reforestation of large areas of central Europe and Scandinavia. As Rome was split in two, the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire began under Justinian the Great.

Byzantine Jewelry in the Middle Ages

Mt. St. Michel in France

Due to the hardships of the times, superstition and mysticism abounded. Beliefs in the medicinal power were attributed to healing gemstones.

This belief dates date back to antiquity, and during the middle ages it was commonly accepted that gems could heal.

Talisman rings with healing gemstones were designed and manufactured to guard against "evil eye." Animal symbols such as the dragon, serpent or toad, and ancient deities such as the Cupid, the winged god Mercury, or Venus were considered to be "talismans," bringing good fortune to the wearer.

During this time the Christian Church was one of the only sources of wealth in Europe, and as such, Ecclesiastical vestments were some of the few ornate objects of jewelry designed and created.

The noblemen and Royalty wore a belt-like strap around the waist. This belt was worn diagonally along the waistline, and was accessorized with keys, knives, lockets, girdle books, decorative bangles, or a pomander.

According to a law of 1376, it was forbidden to garnish a girdle of leather, silk or fine linen with an inferior metal such as lead, pewter or tin, and any craftsmen who engages in such a practice should be "punished for their false work" This kept the use of jewelry limited to the nobility and Royalty.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, Europe became more prosperous and the decorative arts began to emerge from the cloistered world of the royal court. Romanesque metalwork was more ornate and sophisticated it utilize enameling, ivory, and colorful gemstones.

From the darkness of medieval jewelry to the light of the Renaissance


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