Here at Berganza, we have Europe's largest collection of ancient, antique and vintage jewellery, including a remarkable selection of early jewellery, with pieces from the Elizabethan and Stuart eras! Such pieces are extremely rare today as very few have survived from this time period.
Did you know, in 1912, just 0.7 miles from Berganza, in the cellar of 30-32 Cheapside workmen discovered a huge hoard of jewels and gemstones. After three hundred years, The Cheapside Hoard was revealed, displaying treasures that shed light on the jewellery of a time long since passed. The discovery included an astounding collection of almost 500 gemstones and jewels from all over the world. These include a cameo of Elizabeth I and a gold watch set in an astonishing emerald from Colombia.
Berganza’s hoard contains similar treasures such as two rings set with table-cut diamonds. The first true cut of diamond, table cuts are extraordinarily rare as diamonds had to be imported from India and only the very highest of society could afford them. Furthermore, many were subsequently unset and re-cut over the following centuries as technology advanced, rendering any such jewel a remarkable survival.
In the Elizabethan era, coloured gemstones were thought to have magical properties. These were so rare that they were reserved solely for royalty, upper nobility and certain high ranking clergymen. Sapphires were thought to protect against the effects of poison, keeping the peace and curing snake bites. Red gemstones such as spinels, garnets and rubies were believed to protect the wearer from dangers such as the loss of land and rank or status.
During the reformation Royalists who wanted to memorialise King Charles I wore jewellery with his initials, a crown or a likeness of him, often set under rock crystal, they became known as Stuart crystals. Popular until the end of the period, they were also worn as love tokens and wedding jewellery, with symbols of love such as hearts, knots, and flowers within them.
These extraordinary pieces are now rare finds, with each surviving early piece of jewellery providing an intriguing insight into times past. Whether you are captivated by history, revel in craftsmanship or delight in symbolism we have a piece suitable for any enthusiast.