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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Review: Cheapside Hoard Jewellery Exhibition at the Museum of London

This beautifully presented display of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewellery is a must see for anyone who loves jewellery.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Cheapside Hoard by Yelena Bryksenkova

Cheapside Hoard by Yelena Bryksenkova.

I have a major love for all things jewelled and especially gemological, so a visit to the new Cheapside Hoard exhibition at the Museum of London was an absolute must. This exhibition kicked off with a wonderful late night event and runs until 27th April 2014.

Cheapside Hoard by Yelena Bryksenkova

Cheapside Hoard by Yelena Bryksenkova.

The exhibition features the entire collection of jewels from the renowned Cheapside Hoard of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewellery (discovered under a building in the City of London just over 100 years ago), as well as plenty of contextual information. In the darkened rooms we were taken back to a period when great piles of jewels were worn on an every day basis by the upper echelons of society. We are familiar with their style from the multitude of portraits that exist from this era but it is intriguing to see them placed in context with the actual jewellery that was worn: very few examples have survived so the Cheapside Hoard really is the definition of a treasure trove.

Recreation of a jeweller’s workshop, Museum of London

Mock up of jeweller’s workshop.

Cheapside Hoard enamel chains

Enamel chains.

There is a mocked up jeweller’s workshop, descriptions of the trade routes taken by popular gems and a chance to open a mini vent and smell the typical scent worn by a lady of that time. There are many stand out pieces but amongst my favourite were the intricate long enamelled chains that feature tiny flowers and perfectly set stones and were worn in layered abundance. Beautiful bunches of perfectly wobbling amethyst grapes were worn pinned into hair or cascading from ear lobes. An amazing watch set into an emerald is shown alongside stunning spikes of crystal emerald.

Medusa Emerald and hexagonal emerald watch

Medusa Emerald and hexagonal emerald watch.

Jewelled scented bottle of white enamel and gold: 16th - 17th ce

Scent Bottle.

Cheapside hoarder by Sandra Contreras
Cheapside hoarder by Sandra Contreras.

Snarfle loves playing with my jewellery and he loved hearing our explanations of the many types of jewel on show, which include a tiny frog shaped pouch, a teeny boat and miniature parrot broach. Sadly, for the first time, we experienced the wrath of an unhappy visitor as we were leaving the exhibition. ‘Why did you bother coming?‘ he huffed, after exclaiming that we’d ruined his visit – presumably by speaking in slightly louder than hushed tones as we walked around the darkened rooms. Well, I would say that this show is a must see for anyone interested in jewellery, whether they be child or adult. And I look forward to seeing its influence on jewellery design in the years to come.

Read my listing for the Cheapside Hoard here. All photos courtesy of the Museum of London.

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