Elizabethan Jewellery

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Explore Our Collection of Antique Elizabethan Jewellery

Jewellery was very important to aristocrats in Elizabethan England. Elizabethan jewellery was not just a fashion statement, it was also used as an indicator of status. Our stunning collection of Elizabethan rings and jewellery really reflect the trends of the time period. In the 16th century, the gold work surrounding the jewels on a piece of jewellery was just as important as the gemstone. After 1540, the trend for Elizabethan jewellery changed from gold work to ring designs that included imitation petals or acanthus leaves. This was often more impressive than the gemstones themselves!

Cabochon cut and pyramid cut gemstones were the most popular cuts in Elizabethan jewellery. Towards the end of the Elizabethan reign, a new cut of gemstone became available, called the ‘hog-back cut.’ This was possible through the new technologies at the time. Today we would call this style ‘emerald-cut.’ 

Elizabethan rings in particular were prominent in aristocratic life. Rings were a clear indicator of class and status. Interestingly, it was fashionable to wear rings on the first and second joint of the knuckle. Larger jewels were worn as a solitaire. Smaller jewels were placed on the ring in a small cluster, or placed around the band. In the Elizabethan era, it was fashionable for aristocrats to wear signet rings. They were sturdy rings, and were made for everyday use. A nobleman’s signet ring often carried the family’s heraldic sigil, which is a key motif in Elizabethan jewellery.

A lot of different gems were used in Elizabethan jewellery. Gems such as diamonds, topaz and sapphires were commonly used. Necklaces, brooches, and rings often feature these gemstones. Pearls were also massively popular during this period. Pearl necklaces were a very popular item in Elizabethan jewellery. They could also be connected with goldwork to create girdles (a style of Elizabethan belt) or billiments (a unique style of Elizabethan jewellery that would be sewn into clothes.)

One of the most interesting developments in the jewellery of the Elizabethan era were earrings. When women’s hair no longer became covered by headwear, earrings became massively popular. They could be worn in a single ring style, or with just a jewel or pearl.

The Elizabethan period is one of the most exciting periods in jewellery production. There were many new trends and technological developments that made it an incredibly dynamic era in jewellery history.

Look through our expertly curated selection of Elizabethan jewellery, as well as our collection of antique and vintage chains and rings. Take a look at these on our online page, or in-store at our Hatton Garden residence.


The Elizabethan era started in 1558 and ended in 1603. This period of time is named after Queen Elizabeth I, who was on the throne at the time. Elizabethan jewellery is jewellery from the years 1558-1603. There are many unique features to Elizabethan jewellery that are emblematic of changes in the period. The style of Elizabethan rings changed a lot when compared to the previous period. There are many unique pieces of Elizabethan jewellery that reflect the changes in history during the time period. It is a fascinating period of jewellery history.

Elizabethan jewellery included many styles that we still wear today, including rings and necklaces. However, there were some unique styles of Elizabethan jewellery. Jewellery such as girdles or billiments were very popular. Girdles were a style of belt. They often matched a necklace, and attached around the waist. Many Elizabethans attached things to their girdles, like a pomander (perfumed ball) or a prayer book. Billiments were strings of jewels and gold work that was sewn into clothes. These types were unique to Elizabethan jewellery and were not seen often past the time period.

Yes! Men wore jewellery in the Elizabethan era. In fact, one of the key motifs from Elizabethan jewellery is the men’s signet ring. Elizabethan rings often displayed heraldic imagery, as a symbol of the man’s family history. Heraldry was incredibly important during this period. Furthermore, many prominent Elizabethan paintings depict men with earrings. William Shakespeare and Francis Drake’s portraits show them wearing earrings. There are many pieces of men’s Elizabethan jewellery.

Like today, Elizabethan rings often symbolised marriage. They were often made of gold, and were inscribed with a message.They were reserved for the upper class. Elizabethan rings could be worn with multiple on one finger. Signet rings were a key feature of Elizabethan jewellery, and often signified a man’s heritage and family. These were extremely important when it came to displaying power and status.

During the renaissance and Elizabethan periods, men had at least one earring, if not more. Large pearl and diamond drop earrings were a great way to advertise your wealth. Women began to wear earrings towards the end of the Elizabethan era. At the time, earrings were fixed by a ribbon loop through the ears. Elizabethan jewellery was used as a way to advertise wealth.

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Updated 18/05/2024 at 3:51PM

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