Tudor: 1485 - 1603 Design Period

Tudor: 1485 - 1603

Tudor 1485-1603


Tudor: 1485 - 1603

Tudor: 1485 - 1603

The Tudor dynasty reigned in England from 1485 when Henry Tudor (Henry VII) seized the throne and ended with Elizabeth I in 1603, though Elizabeth's reign is often separated. The Tudor period was a tumultuous time, with some of the most famous English monarchs ruling England. Jewellery design mirrored the rapid changes in society and became more ornate and elaborate as engraving, goldwork and enamelling techniques improved. Many of the skills came to England from Europe where the renaissance was ongoing. The Tudor period was time for innovation in jewellery with wealthy patrons willing to spend money on having the most extraordinary pieces. There were extreme changes to society that were reflected in the fashion and, ‘more is more’ was a theme that perpetuated. For the nobility, jewellery was layered and embossed onto every piece of clothing from hats and sleeves to dresses. The popularity of jewellery for those who could afford it can be attributed to the European courts trying to outdo each other with the most extravagant jewels. Perhaps the best example of this is when King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France met in 1520 for a tournament. The meeting was so lavish with each country trying to show off its wealth that it became knows as, ‘The Field of The Cloth of Gold.’ Rings were exceedingly popular and it is thought that Henry VIII had a collection of over 700 of them, rings were also worn as a status symbol by royalty, nobility, clergyman and politicians to signify their position within society. Jewellery was an easy way for the upper class to distinguish themselves, therefore spectacular pieces were worn as a display of political strength and as identification. Gemstones such as diamonds, spinels, amethysts, sapphires and rubies in gold closed-back settings are often seen in Tudor jewellery. Diamonds were often table-cut, this is the simplest of all methods of faceting a diamond, it consists of removing the top and to bottom points of the octahedron. Gentleman of rank would wear wide gold chains engraved and enamelled, forming medallions which were often set to centre with large gemstones. Chains often had a pendant hung from them which symbolised rank such as the, Collar of Essex worn by Sir Thomas Moore which denoted his position as Lord Chancellor of England. Women often layered necklaces, wearing a Carcanet (a wide a choker-style necklace) and a longer second necklace which was made of gold and often set with gemstones. The third rope-like necklace was then pinned to the bodice and shoulders forming a loop, often made of pearls. Most Tudor jewellery has not survived to modern day however, some jewels from this time remain. Here at Berganza we offer a variety of extraordinary pieces that are completely original to the period.

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Examples from our catalogue


 Tudor table cut diamond ring berganza hatton garden
Tudor table cut diamond ring, circa 16th century.
Tudor table cut diamond ring berganza hatton garden
Tudor table cut diamond ring, circa 1485-1603.
front view Tudor amethyst ring, circa 16th 17th century.
Rare Tudor amethyst ring, circa 16th-17th century.

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Updated 14/05/2022 at 4:23PM

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