Jewels, Hair and Accessories of the Middle Ages
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This elaborate bishop's ring has the typical combination of a gold setting with a single, large stone, in this case malachite. The gold is decorated with openwork eagles, animal heads, and floral elements. The malachite is probably meant to resemble "toadstone," a green stone said to be found on the head of a toad and believed to have healing qualities. These rings had to be large as bishops normally wore them over gloves on the third finger of the right hand.

Lapidary- a text that investigates and chronicles the¬†physical, magical and medicinal property of a stone. Pliny the Elder’s Natural History was admired in the Middle Ages for its compendium of minerals and metals. Marbodus, Bishop of Rennes, wrote one of the most famous lapidaries, Liper Lapidum Book of Stones, in 1067-81. In this book he […]

This article discusses Renaissance and Baroque jewelry, but her ideas are useful when thinking of medieval jewelry. Rodini’s main points can be summarized: – though small in size jewelry signified the relationship between the wearer and society – During the Renaissance the world was considered to be infused with signs, and it was a necessary […]

Rowel Spur (c. 1400); Spanish, Catalan; Copper, gold, and enamel; L. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)

During the Middle Ages jewelry was connected intimately to showing social stature and rank. In the Early Middle Ages, the influence of massive chains from the Byzantine Empire combined with the Roman trend for beautiful intricate glass beads and metal disks. For women, their necklaces would have been covered up by the couvre-chef. Still, they […]