Have you heard of the Cheapside hoard? To be honest, I hadn’t until I took the “History of Jewellery” course as part of my Jewellery Arts diploma. I think the name is funny which makes it very memorable to me!
But, why are you mentioning this now, you ask?? Well, because the Museum of London is having a major exhibition of the entire hoard right now. In case you are going to London this winter or spring, or if you were looking for an excuse to go, this would be fantastic to see. The exhibit is on until April 27, 2014. This is the first time in a century that the whole hoard has been exhibited together.
This stash was found in 1912 by workers doing an excavation near Cheapside St in London. The hoard is made up of 500 pieces from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras (late 16th and early 17th centuries). Of course, no one is really sure why all of this jewellery and associated pieces were hidden away, there is speculation that the site that was being excavated was a goldsmith’s shop and he hid all of this away due to the English Civil War.
The hoard itself is a mix of some expensive jewels, a few watches (including a large emerald one), rock crystal vessels, unmounted gems, and other miscellaneous accessories; with the majority of pieces being jewellery that was typical for the successful merchant class. There are a lot of enameled pieces in the collection. At this time they used enameling to enhance the settings of gemstones, especially white which they used as a background to make the work look light and delicate. There are also many chains (of various designs) using small enameled flowers and gemstone links. Interestingly, the women of the time would have worn many of these chains together as a statement necklace – just like now!
I hope you have a chance to go – and sent me pictures!