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Medieval head ornaments and necklaces from the tenth to the sixteenth century belong for the most part rather to the general history of costume than to that of jewelry only, and it will be unnecessary to follow those extravagances of fashion which, especially during the fifteenth century, were presented by the head-dress of women.

More germane to the subject are the fillets, bands, and chaplets worn throughout the Middle Ages by women when their heads were uncovered, and during a more limited period by men also. The original form of these was a ribbon, which encircled the brow, held back the hair from the face, and adjusted the veil, while wreaths, either of natural flowers or of plain gold, were a frequent decoration for young women.

Hence the bands or chaplets, which took their motives from those more simple ornaments, were made either wholly of metal, or of gold flowers sewn upon an embroidered band, both forms being enriched with pearls and precious stones.

The fillet later on became a heavy band composed of separate pieces of metal joined by hinges, and showed a close resemblance to the broad belts of the knights. The wearing of such head-ornaments was not confined exclusively to the nobility, for the receipt of a sale of jewels by Agnes Chalke, spicer of London, to a certain John of Cambridge in 1363, includes a ” coronal of gold, wrought with stones, that is to say, with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and pearls.”‘ Exquisite circlets set with these gems are worn by the choir of singing and music-making angels on the wings of the Van Eycks’ famous “Ghent Altar-piece” in the Berlin Museum.

The fillet, whether a complete circle or hinged, received about the fourteenth century additional enrichment in the form of trefoils, fleurs-de-lis, crosses, and foliations, erected on cuspings upon its upper edge.

A simple but charming example of a circlet, dating from the fourteenth century, is preserved in the Musee du Cinquantenaire at Brussels. It is of silver gilt, formed of hinged plaques, each mounted with from three to four collets set with pearls, and with pastes in imitation of precious stones, while additional ornaments in the form of fleurs-de-lis are fixed erect upon it.

From the diadem of this character originated the coronets worn by those of high or noble rank; the use of these, amid the ceremonies of later courts, crystallized into a system of class privilege. Such diadems or coronets approach the form of the regal crown, which in England, as early as the eleventh century, was enriched with rays and floriations.

The regal crown, with which we are not immediately concerned,” by the addition of arches, was converted about the fifteenth century into what is technically known as the “close” crown.

Round the helmets of knights in the fifteenth century ornamental wreaths called orles were worn: these, originally composed of two bands of silk twisted. No attempt will here be made to enumerate the various forms of crowns and coronets.

MEDIEVAL HEAD-DRESSES together, were afterwards richly jeweled. One of the most famous of jeweled hats was that of Charles the Bold, thickly encrusted with huge pearls and precious stones, which was captured by the Swiss after his death at the battle of Nancy in 1477.

Of female ornaments of the same period it need only be stated that the elaborate head-dresses, such as the cornette, escoffion, and Jicnin —it is sometimes difficult to imagine how women had sufficient strength to keep them balanced on their heads—were profusely adorned with pearls, gold spangles, and precious stones, and in some cases with crowns or crown-shaped combs of elaborate gold work enriched with gems.

The Italians, with more refined taste seem to have escaped from such extravagances sooner than the rest of Europe, and to have been content for the most part with a simple bandemt encircling the forehead. Among the most interesting varieties of personal ornaments in the Middle Ages are certain jewels or brooches worn in the hat, and known as enseignes.

From the lead signs or ornaments worn by pilgrims there was gradually evolved a special class of jewels on which the great artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries exercised their utmost skill, and which at the present day are among the most highly prized of all early articles of personal jewelry.

Rivers near large cities have supplied us with much of the knowledge we possess of the manners and habits of those who in former times dwelt upon their banks. Whenever dredging or digging disturbs the beds of such rivers, objects of antiquity, which seem to have gravitated there, are sure to be discovered.

The municipal museum of many a city of ancient foundation preserves choice works of antiquity recovered from its river’s bed. Among the most remarkable objects brought to light in this manner are certain curious medieval ornaments, which belong to the age that has bequeathed exceedingly few examples of articles for personal use.

The ornaments referred to are the small badges or signs of lead, given or sold, as tokens, to medieval pilgrims to the shrines of saints or martyrs, and known as “Pilgrims’ Signs.” They were obtained from the attendants at shrines and exhibitions of relics, who kept ready a large variety bearing the effigy or device of some particular saint, or the symbol that had reference to his acts of worship. Each sign or token was pierced with holes, or more frequently had a pin cast in one piece with it, making it available as a brooch.

It was thus fastened to the hat or other portion of the pilgrim’s dress as a testimony of his having visited the particular shrine indicated by the token. These badges, which date from about the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, were manufactured at the churches or monasteries to which pilgrimages were made.

Molds for casting them are preserved in the British Museum and the Guildhall Museum; and a forge was found at Walsingham Priory where the sacristan melted the metals employed for their manufacture. It will be outside the present purpose to enumerate all the varieties of form assumed by these interesting and historically most valuable objects. Important collections of them are preserved in the British Museum and Guildhall Museum in London, and in the Musde Cluny, Paris.

In England the most popular relics were those of Our Lady of Walsingham Priory, and particularly Several writers on Pilgrims’ Signs state that a furnace destined for the same purpose may still be seen in an upper chamber in Canterbury Cathedral.

Inquiry on the spot has failed to confirm the truth of this statement. The furnace in question has been used solely for the purpose of casting lead work for repairing the roof. The badges were probably made somewhere in the Cathedral precincts.
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Phoenician Jewelry: Sculptures Part 2

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In addition to the actual ornaments, special value attaches also to Phoenician sculptures, principally busts, both from Phoenicia itself and from its colonies, owing to the care with which personal ornaments and details of dress are represented.

Several striking examples of these are preserved in the galleries set apart for Cyprian and Phoenician antiquities in the British Museum. The most famous of similar works, which include the sculptures from the ” Cerro de los Santos,” near Yecla in the province of Albacete in Spain, now in the museum at Madrid, is the remarkable stone bust of a woman in the Louvre, known as the ” Lady of Elch,” from a town of that name in the province of Alicante, where it was discovered in 1897.

The majestic character of this figure, its sumptuous coiffure with clusters of tassels suspended by ten chains, the wheel-like discs that cover the ears, the triple row of necklaces with their urn-shaped pendants—all unite to produce an effect unequaled by any known statue of antiquity.

Especially noticeable among these ornaments is the diadem which encircles the forehead and hangs down from each side in long pendants upon the shoulders. With this may be compared the chains hung at the ends of the golden fillet at Berlin, discovered by Schliemann at the pre-Mycenaean city of Hissarlik in the Troad, the ornate tasselled appendages at St. Petersburg, found with the famous Greek diadems in the tombs of the Crimea, and the elaborate head ornaments with pendent ends worn by Algerian women at the present day.

The Phoenicians, as seen also by their sculptures, were addicted to the barbaric practice of piercing the upper parts of the ears, as well as the lobes, and attaching to them rings bearing drop-shaped pendants. Rings were also attached to the hair on each side of the face. They consist of a double twist which could be run through a curl of the hair, and are ornamented at one end with a lion’s or gryphon’s head.

Of ordinary earrings worn by the Phoenicians the simplest is a plain ring. In the majority of cases the simple ring was converted into a hook and served to suspend various ornaments, of which baskets or bushels with grain in them afforded favorite motives.

Examples of earrings of this kind, from Tharros in Sardinia, are in the British Museum. Statues, like the Lady of Elch, show that Phoenician women wore three or four necklaces at the same time, one above the other; these vary in the size of their elements, from the small beads about the throat, to the large acorn-shaped pendants which hang low upon the breast. They display a striking admixture of Greek and Egyptian motives.

Gold beads are often intermixed with small carnelian and onyx bugles, to which hang amphorae formed alternately of gold or crystal. The Phoenicians were particularly skilled in the manufacture of glass: occasionally the sole materials of their necklaces are beads of glass. A necklace from Tharros in Sardinia, now in the British Museum, is formed of beads of glass and gold; of its three gold pendants, the centre one is the head of a woman with Egyptian coiffure, and the two others lotus flowers.

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Continued in Part 3

What is a Toggle?

Every jewelry artisan must learn jewelry making supplies terminology.
Knowing jewelry making terms will help you choose or define the right component when images are not available as well as help you to communicate about your jewelry designs to potential purchasers.

For example, just what is a “toggle?” Jewelry toggles are within the category of jewelry closures. A toggle clasp fastens jewelry together for the finishing touch as well as for putting on and removal of the jewelry. Toggles are used for closures on bracelets, necklaces and anklets.

The toggle clasp consists of a jewelry component loop and a stick. The loop is placed on one end of the stringing material and the stick is placed on the other end. When you put the two ends together to form a bracelet, necklace or anklet you will insert the stick into the loop.

This does not sound like it will hold the piece together and even at first sight you might think how can this work to hold my necklace, bracelet, or anklet together around my neck, arm or ankle? Toggle clasps actually work beautifully for the connection purposes of handmade jewelry using “gravity” to hold the jewelry together. It works great and looks great as well.

Look for toggle clasps in your favorite bead supplier shop in the section of “supplies.”

Fastening Toggles can also be found in the supplies sections of bead stores. Open jump rings, split rings or link locks usually fasten toggles when using chain in your jewelry designs. You can easily fasten a toggle to bead wire jewelry with crimp beads. String the wire through a toggle or stick loop and double it through the crimp bead, then flatten the crimp bead to hold in place.

Toggles are made from a variety of materials including cast or assembled metal alloys, platinum, gold, palladium and sterling silver, stainless steel, surgical steel and titanium. You can also find toggle sets made of wood or stone.

Jewelry toggles are usually regarded as more fashionable than lobster claw clasps.

For a different kind of look try using fancy toggles at the front of the necklace creating a visual centerpiece.

It is easy to match jewelry creations to the most eye pleasing toggle set as they come in so many different designs such as plain round, oval, square, diamond, heart shaped, floral stirrup and more. And that just about answers the question of “what is a toggle?”

Written by: Connie Limon
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