- Cameos were originally carved in Ancient Egypt, somewhere around 15,000 BC. However, it is the Greeks and Romans who we are more likely to associate with cameos. They started to become popular in England during the Elizabethan period but really became very popular during the eighteenth century as a consequence of the Grand Tour.
2) The scarab beetle symbolises rebirth. It is symbolic of Khepri, an Egyptian sun god.
3) The oldest known jewellery is thought to be made from snail shells. A string of snails shell beads was found in a cave in South Africa. It’s thought to be 30,000 years old.
4) The Snettisham Hoard is an Iron Age treasure. It was found in 1948 during ploughing. The area was repeatedly dug and more treasure unearthed. It’s famous for its twelve torcs found in one pit.
6) Cloisonné appears in the jewellery of Ancient Egypt – so back to the pharaohs again.
7) The spelling went wrong! I can only apologise. It should have said penannular which essentially means an incomplete ring – think Celtic and Viking.
8) Viking women wore turtle brooches – named because of their typical shape.
9) Unicorn horn worked as an antidote to poison – so if you dunked your ring containing the unicorn horn in your goblet you would be completely safe. Lady Margaret Beaufort’s possessions included one such ring.
10) Queen Elizabeth I owned thousands of pearls. The earl of Leicester often gave her ropes of pearls as a New Year’s gift.
11) Alfred’s jewel fitted on the end of an aestel, or pointer, to follow words in a book.
12) Black jewellery associated with mourning – Whitby jet. Apparently when it’s worked it smells of rotting tree.
13) The Cheapside Hoard contains the largest collection of Tudor and Stuart jewellery in the world. it was probably during during the English Civil Wars and its location reflects the fact that it was an area known for its jewellers… wonder what happened to its owner?
14) The Crown Jewels have been kept in the Tower of London since the Fourteenth Century – although of course, Oliver Cromwell sold them off and melted them down so that the only medieval piece is the Coronation Spoon.
15) The Triskelion brooch is part of the Sutton Hoo treasure and can be seen in the British Museum.
16) Birmingham is famous for its jewellery quarter.
17) It’s a pie crust ring – love the name.
18) This is the Middleham Jewel, found in 1985 near to Middleham Castle, the home of Richard III.
19) Hans Holbein is famous for his portraits of Henry VIII and his court but he also designed jewellery.
20) The rosary beads were owned by Henry VIII.