Jewellery in the Gothic period

GŠ brož drahé kameny

Ring Brooch, 1340–49, German, Middle Rhine. Gold, spinels, sapphires; (2.2 x 0.5 cm). “This brooch, a superb and well-preserved example of fourteenth-century jewelry, comes from a hoard found in the Rhenish village of Lingenfeld in 1969. Because the hoard contained coins issued in Speyer between 1347 and 1349, it is thought to have been buried by a member of the local Jewish community fleeing persecution in 1349 for the safety of a neighboring town.” Source:

GŠ muž a žena vyobrazení_thomas_arderne_s264_r5299_large

Sir Thomas Arderne, 1391, St Mary’s Church, Elford, Staffordshire, England. Source: Original source: Clinch, George. 1910. English costume from prehistoric times to the end of the eighteenth century. A.C. McClurg

In the Gothic period (subsequent to the Romanesque style; developing from the 12th century and continuing approximately into the 15th century, somewhere even longer), processing of jewellery developed greatly. Through the Italian business cities, people in Europe started to import more gemstones from the east, craftsmen started to cut diamonds, email appeared in many new colours and with higher gloss, there were new procedures in the field of gold processing. In London and Paris, the goldsmiths were recognized as a separate craft. Gradually, pearls came into fashion, with the most precious ones being imported from what is now the Persian Gulf region.

GŠ náhrdelník drahé kameny

Necklace, 14th century. “This rare gold necklace, enriched by the contrasting colours of the precious stones, belonged to the bequest of the Queen, Saint Isabel. It consists of eight multi-lobed plates, linked by two parallel chains and accented by nine baroque pearls in groups of three. The central gems (three sapphires, one glass, one glass doublet and two topazes) are surrounded by a collar, encircled on the base with a typical medieval setting of small beads. The remaining stones are set in the same manner.” Source:

GŠ šperk -M-

The Hylle Jewel, in the form of a crowned Lombardic initial ’M’ with annunciation figures, late 14th century. Source:

Among the most common jewellery, there were rings that could be worn on every finger, including thumb, with a specific category of signet rings; and decorative pins, which had practical function as well. In addition, there were belts made of fabric or leather, decorated in varying degrees.

GŠ pásek

Belt for a Lady’s Dress, Siena, Italy. c. 1375-1400. Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Source:

GŠ prsten z pokladu Rakousko

14th century ring found in Austria. Source:

GŠ prsten

Gold enameled finger ring. France, 13th century, 23mm. Source:

GŠ prsten stříbro

15th century, silver, engraved, possibly made in Italy. “This ring combines the ancient fede( faith ) motif of two hands clasped together, with another motif depicting two hands holding a heart.These symbols signified love and fidelity. It is likely that this ring was a love token, representing everlasting love, or perhaps a betrothal ring. Fede rings were made all over Europe in the Middle Ages.” Source:

GŠ opasek - spona

Victoria and Albert Museum, 1450-1500 Italy, Gold brocade gilded silver buckle with enamel and niello. Author: Kotomi_ Source:

GŠ signet ring

Signet ring from Italy, 1300-1400. Engraved gold ring with a nielloed inscription and set with an onyx intaglio. “This fourteenth century ring combines a heraldic lion, probably used as a signet, with a Christian phrase. ‘In manus tuas domine commendo spiritum meum’ (Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, Luke 23:46), the words spoken by Jesus before his death on the Cross, are engraved around the hoop. Biblical phrases are frequently found upon jewellery, often intended to give the jewel a protective or amuletic function. Religious phrases, sometimes combined with magical names and invocations, were written on parchment and worn as amulets or engraved on jewellery worn close to the body. They were believed to protect the wearer against both physical and spiritual dangers.”. Source:

GŠ Drakkaria honosny_stredoveky_opasek_gotika_b

Leather belt of a nobleman. Source:

Increased supply and demand has led until half of the 14th century to introduction of first regulations in Western Europe in an attempt to hinder counterfeiting, as well as of regulations stipulating who is allowed to wear what jewellery (eg. knights in England were not allowed to wear gold and wearing silver jewellery was conditioned by well-defined property; in Castile, all subjects of the King except of the infantes were not allowed to wear ornaments made of gold, silver, pearls and precious stones since 1380) – this way, jewellery have become a true indication of a specific role of man.

GŠ směs šperků Fishpool

Jewellery from the Fishpool hoard. Medieval, mid-15th century AD. Made in England and Flanders; Found at Fishpool, Nottinghamshire, England. “On 22 March 1966 an unusual hoard was discovered on a building site at the village of Fishpool. It comprises 1,237 coins, four rings, four pieces of jewellery and two lengths of chain. The rings are probably English. One is set with a turquoise, which was believed to protect the wearer from poisoning, drowning or from having an accident while riding. Another ring, of plain gold, carries an English inscription inside the hoop which means ‘Lift up your whole heart’. Another has the figure of a saint and the motto ‘en bon cuer’ (in good heart). A variation of the same motto – ‘de bon cuer’ – occurs on the signet ring which bears the device of a hawk’s lure.” Source:

GŠ šperk

Jewel from Europe, ca. 1450-1500. Gold, spinel, enamel. “Flower shaped jewels, which allowed a prized gemstone to be effectively set off at their centre, appear to have been popular amongst the nobility of Europe in the 15th Century, although few survive. The prominent loops on this one suggest that it was likely to have been sewn onto a garment, or it may possibly have been one element of a jewelled collar. The white enamelled gold beads were intended to resemble pearls” Source:

Preserved list of jewellery of French queen Jeanne of Èvreux from second half of the 14th century allows an idea of ​​what collection of royal jewels had included: different crowns, brooches, belts, hair accessories, tiaras, rings and pins. Kings used to have similar number and variety of jewellery as women. A frequent motif used to be lily, probably dedicated only to royal families, similarly as an eagle motif.

GŠ koruna Sv. Václav

Crown of Saint Wenceslas made in 1347, part of the Bohemian Crown Jewels. Source:

GŠ Drakkaria goticka-kolekce-karel-iv_2

Gothic Collection, Charles IV. Source:

GŠ Drakkaria norica_korunka_mosazna_lapis_b

Brass crown with lapis lazuli. Source:

Besides single pieces of jewellery, all materials used for their production were also used directly to adorn garments.

GŠ Isabella of Valois - šperky na oděvu

Isabelle of Valois (1389-1409). Source:

GŠ portrét ženy

Portrait Of A Young Woman, Probably Mary Of Burgundy by South Netherlandish School. Oil on Canvas. Source:,-Probably-Mary-Of-Burgundy

Brooches were more and more often made with a central visual motif– it could be images of saints or angels, hunting and animal motifs, representations of people, heraldic motifs, etc.; the scene could be supplemented by an inscription. Gradually, some brooches developed into a kind of a badge of belonging to a political group; livery collars (= “chains of office”) became more and more common as well, they were decorated chains also determining function and status of its bearer, often with pendants with heraldic motifs or with a personal motto.

GŠ kočka s myší

Lead brooch (originally maybe gold-coated), 14th/15th century, probably sign of political party, with a sign “”I’ve caught the mouse”, British Museum. Source:

GŠ drak

Badge of Dragon Order donated in 1387 by King Sigismund. Southern Germany, around 1430. Relief embroidery in gold and colored silk on linen, glass bead. 27.0 x 39.0 cm. Source:[p]=5&cHash=bc3520bdfb7b26088e1e7a2c79b49e22

GŠ brož erby

Silver brooch, square in shape, decorated with eight heraldic shields including the royal arms of England pre-1340, Beauchamp, de Clare and de Bohun. Date: 1300-1350. Made in England. Length: 24.7 mm. Translated inscriptions: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. + You have my heart. Source:

GŠ malovaný přívěsek Francie

Pendant. 14th century. Made in Limoges, France. Champlevé enamel, copper, gilt. Source:

GŠ collane_des_ordens_vom_goldenen_vlies_burgundisch_-_niederlaendisch_15._jahrhundert_original

Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Burgundy / Netherlands, 15th century. “The Order of the Golden Fleece was the ‘badge’ of the Casa d’Austria, its various symbols part of the fundamental accoutrements of all male Habsburgs in official portraits. A mysterious aura surrounds the archaic rituals and statutes of the Habsburg family Order which have existed essentially unchanged since its foundation more than 500 years ago.” Source:

A separate chapter could belong to jewellery associated with religion (eg. brooches with folded hands) and religious objects such as reliquaries.

GŠ relikviář s orlem z PRAHY

This jewel reliquary was probably made in Prague in the middle of the 14th century. It was used to tie the tails of a ceremonial garment. Relics it contained gave the wearer prestige and protection. Luxury materials and care taken in its implementation suggest that this is an imperial order. Set with precious stones and enriched with enamel, it represents crowned eagle on background of flames, emblem of Bohemia. Source:

GŠ náboženský medailon

Agnus Dei box. Upper part: silver openwork, engraved in basse-taille with translucent enamels, made by a Sienese goldsmith in Avignon (?), ca. 1320-1330. Lower part: repoussé and gilt silver, 15th century. Source:

GŠ náboženský přívěsek

Reliquary pendant of the Holy Thorn. Medieval, around AD 1340. From Paris, France. Lenght: 3,8 cm. A thorn from Christ’s crown (?). “This reliquary is made of gold, with an exterior of amethystine crystal. The three principal leaves are richly enamelled in basse-taille (‘shallow cut’), with scenes divided into two registers by a decorative band. The scenes depicted represent episodes from the life of Christ, with one exception. In the lower register of one leaf a barefoot king kneels with his queen, praying to the Virgin and Child. It is likely that they commissioned the piece.” Source:,_holy_thorn.aspx

GŠ byzantský kříž

Cross with Pearls. Date: 1200–1400. Byzantine. Gold and pearls. Dimensions: 4.8 x 3 x 0.7 cm. Source:

GŠ náboženský medailon s býkem

Medallion with the bull of St Luke. Translucent enamelling on basse-taille silver, Catalunya, second half of the 14th century. Source:

GŠ - přívěsek, relikviářní křížek

Pendant reliquary cross. Germany (possibly). Date: ca. 1450-1475. Silver, silver gilt; ruby, sapphire, garnet, pearl. “The images decorating the back of this cross were often used as a focus for meditation in the late medieval period. The scenes on the lid show the Instruments of the Passion – scourge, whip, lance, sponge and nails – which were used during the Crucifixion. A tiny fragment of one of them may have formed a relic, stored in the cross’s now empty interior. Pearls symbolised purity, and the red gems may have symbolised sacrificial blood shed by Christ. The jewellery worn in medieval Europe reflected an intensely hierarchical and status-conscious society. Royalty and the nobility wore gold, silver and precious gems. Humbler ranks wore base metals, such as copper or pewter. Colour (provided by precious gems and enamel) and protective power were highly valued.” Source:

Special group consists of love jewellery with inscriptions – the gifts of love.

GŠ srdce náhodný nález

14th century heart-shaped gold brooch. Source:

GŠ srdce s nápisem

Brooch from about 1400, England. With French inscription; translation: YOU ARE MY EARTHLY JOY. Length: 34.7 mm. Source:!!/OR/!!/23795/!//!/brooch/!//!!//!!!/&orig=/research/online_research_catalogues/russian_icons/catalogue_of_russian_icons/advanced_search.aspx¤tPage=1


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