Renaissance Festival Jewelry And Its Significance
By David Lawson
Renaissance jewelry was worn as a means of decoration, but had lots of meaning as well. Much of the inspiration behind these works of art were nature, life experiences and religion. Some of them were very simple depending on the gems and stones that were used, but could be very elaborate in design.
Renaissance era jewelry covered a broad range of materials. Pearls in brooches, earrings, necklaces and collars of office were obviously the most popular jewelry component for both women and men. From early years when mainly cabochon stones were used, jewelers gradually began using cameos, simple faceted stones with table cut, pearls of all sizes, opals and lightly faceted gemstone beads. Sought after gemstones were diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. But remember, diamonds did not have the sparkle of today’s multi-faceted stones. Chains were also popular for men and women. Some were worn to designate an office held by the wearer, or a station in society.
Heart-shaped pendants were one of many designs that were very popular in this period. There were precious stones and gems that were also cut in the same manner. These were used signify a person’s love for another. Rings were also used for this purpose and had various designs and themes that gave the same message.
Whenever someone died, those closest to them would wear jewelry that was called Memento Mori. This was worn to help people remember that life was only for a moment and that they will be in the same place as their departed loved ones. Sometimes coffins and skulls were incorporated into the design.
Broaches were quite popular as well and one type that was worn was known as a garland. When one thinks of a garland they usually think of flowers and that’s what these types of broaches represent. Much of the art that went into these items was inspired by nature. They were designed to look like floral wreaths.
The hair was also a way for women to express themselves and some used hair nets to do this. The nets were woven with different kinds of thread including gold. They were also decorated with pearls and other gems. Pearls were used to make necklaces and earrings and were worn by women who could afford them.
Even though many people wore many types of jewels and ornaments during this period, much of it had meaning and significance. They could point to a group that one belonged to and they could even be a family inheritance. This was a time where people took the chance to be as extravagant as they wanted to be using Renaissance jewelry.