Jewellery and men in Tudor and Jacobean England

Project team

Department of Prehistory and Europe 


  • Professor Evelyn Welch, Queen Mary,
    University of London

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council

An Arts and Humanities Research Council
Collaborative Doctoral Award

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Inspired: contemporary views of Renaissance jewellery

In late 2011-early 2012 a display of contemporary jewellery considering the attributes and preoccupations of a 21st-century man by six early-career silversmiths, and inspired by the British Museum's Renaissance jewels, was displayed in Room 46.

The craftsmen and women have all completed postgraduate training at Bishopsland in Oxfordshire. This year-long workshop aims to support young graduates, so they can then establish their own workshop and pursue a career as an independent designer-maker. Since 1993, about 150 silversmiths have taken part in the programme.

Rather than create pastiche copies of Museum objects, the group were required to remain faithful to the sentiments embodied within male Renaissance jewellery. Displayed alongside objects from this period, their work offers a contemporary perspective of personal adornment.

Business-card holder made of sterling silver, Aoife White
  • 1

    Business-card holder made of sterling silver, Aoife White
    Aoife was struck by the ornate nature of jewellery worn by men and picked up on contemporary aesthetics such as floral motifs. The symbol of a fiery Celtic dragon, though only its tail remains visible on the surface, creates an appropriate accessory for a modern tycoon wishing to demonstrate his power in the world of business.

  • 2

    Belt-buckle, sterling silver with a square-cut peridot, James Hughes
    James took on an object-type fairly ubiquitous in the period. He wanted to make it a highly personal object by using the form of an escutcheon (shield) from family coats of arms. By decorating it with a simplified crest it makes subtle reference to an individual’s heritage.

  • 3

    Neck-chain, sterling silver with peridot, Joseph Langshaw
    Joseph was inspired by the highly ornate symbolic and ritualistic chains in use throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For his ‘chain-of-office’ he remained mindful of modern trends towards rituals and religion. So he tried to reflect the form of rosary beads, as well as chains that incorporate Christian, ancient Egyptian and pagan symbolism.

  • 4

    Belt-buckle, sterling silver, moonstone, opal, leather, Thomas Asquith
    Thomas wanted to create a buckle, after having seen Tudor examples within the British Museum collection and illustrated in contemporary portraiture. He has modernised the Tudor buckle through the use of neutral coloured stones and oxidised silver, in line with a contemporary male aesthetic.

  • 5

    Brooch, sterling silver with sapphire, Gillian Fowler
    Gillian was struck by the form of chimney pieces at Hampton Court Palace and embraced this in her design. It reflects the domesticity that many young men today seek in establishing their own household, as homeowner, husband, and father.

  • 6

    Neck-chain, sterling silver, Elizabeta Banach
    Elizabeta was inspired by Tudor chains that were in great profusion in the period. She was particularly taken by the large chains-of-office worn by men of power and so chose to create a geometric chain suitable for a dominant male.