Thursday 2nd November 2017
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!'
The time has come once again for bonfire night. A tradition established to commemorate the capture of notorious Guy (Guido) Fawkes, a member of a group of dissident catholic conspirators plotting to assassinate King James I in what was known as the Gun Powder Plot of 1605. The plot was prevented on November 5th,1605 when government officials discovered Fawkes in the cellar of parliament attempting to ignite thirty-six barrels of gunpowder directly below where King James I would have sat the next day on the opening of parliament. Fawkes was singled out of the twelve conspirators because he was caught red-handed. In the end, Guy Fawkes along with eight other conspirators were convicted of high treason and sentenced to execution for their crimes. By the 19th century, in remembrance of the day, Protestants would burn effigies of Fawkes on bonfires throughout the country and by the Victorian era the date had become known as Guys Fawkes Day.
The 17th century was a very important time for jewellery design and innovation. There was a shift in jewellery presentation, more emphasis was applied on gemstones making them the focal point for jewellery designs. This shift is seen in portraits of King James I, where he is sporting parures with minute metal work and a variety of gemstones particularly diamonds. During the beginning of the 17th century, the availability of diamonds increased with the discovery of the Golconda mines in India. Diamonds from the Golconda mines were and still are of the finest quality, displaying optimum whiteness and superior clarity. One of the most notable diamonds discovered from this mine was the Sancy Diamond, a rare, pale yellow diamond weighing 55.23 carats, purchased by King James I in 1605.
Perhaps one of the most significant influence in jewellery during the 17th century was the advancement of diamond cutting skills. Previously, diamond cutters were restricted to two types of diamond cuts, table and point cut. However, adventurous cutting experiments in Holland led to the ‘Dutch’ rose cut, a progressive development of the original rose cut. It has a concave surface with 6 to 24 triangular facets. With growing availability of diamonds, the ‘Dutch’ rose cut diamond was highly sought after as it released more of the diamond’s true brilliance. Not only were diamond cuts changing but also coloured gemstone cuts. Before the 17th century, almost all coloured gemstones were seen in cabochon form, now faceted coloured gemstones were all the rage. Emeralds and rubies were introduced in a new perspective and displayed the greatest lustre making them increasingly popular amongst the upper classes.
Berganza’s diverse collection of rare and exquisite 17th century jewellery are unquestionably fine examples of the time period. Gemstones with innovative cuts are the focal point of many of the pieces and display beautiful lustre. We are sure to have something for you if you are looking for a jewel which is truly unique and full of life.
Post Medieval sapphire ring, circa 17th century AD.
Rock crystal posy ring 'Nothing Like True Love', circa 17th century.
Rare Tudor amethyst ring, circa 16th-17th century.
Stuart rock crystal love knot ring, circa 17th century.
Rare Renaissance rose cut diamond key ring, circa 17th-18th century.
Post Medieval gold fleur-de-lis signet ring, circa 17th century AD.
Tudor enameled 'BEHOLD THE ENDE' skull ring, English, circa 17th century AD.
Tudor table cut diamond ring.