MEDIEVAL WOMAN SITEMAP THE BOOKTHE BLOG ARTIFACT COLLECTION TUTORIALS TALKS NOTICEBOARD

DRESS
ACCESSORIES

TIPPETS

BELTS & GIRDLES

PURSES & BAGS

HEADWEAR

FOOTWEAR

JEWELLERY

BROOCHES

RINGS

NECKLACES

PATERNOSTERS
& ROSARIES


RELIQUARIES

GLOVES

APRONS

Medieval Jewellery

Jewellery for women during the medieval period varied greatly between time periods. Some periods are known for their beautiful jewellery but at other times, ornamentation appears to be more often attached directly to items of clothing being worn- belts, jewelled bands, studded or embroidered clothes.

Which gemstone was selected for what piece of jewellery was an important consideration. Particular stones were believed to be good for particular things. Shown at right is a beautiful ring brooch dated between 1250 and 1300 and of English or French manufacture. It is set with sapphires and garnets.

The jewellery page is divided into five sections:

BROOCHES
Marriage brooches, pilgrim badges & cloak fasteners

RINGS

NECKLACES
Necklaces, pendants and collars

PATERNOSTERS & ROSARIES
The church-approved fashion accessory

RELIQUARIES
Wearing your holy relics

Jean de Jandun, an early 14th century writer comments on items of jewellery available at the markets on the bank of the river Seine. He writes:

On display here were all the objects to adorn the different parts of the human body: for the head, crowns, chaplets, and bonnets, ivory combs for the hair, mirrors for looking at oneself, belts for the waist, purses to suspend from them, gloves for the hands, necklaces for the breast, and other things of this type which I cannot list because I lack the Latin terms for these objects.

Shown at left is the head of St Adelheid from 1260 which shows a magnificent crown, brooch and cloak clasps. At many times, crowns, coronets and jewelled items were worn alone or as part of elaborate headdresses. These can be seen on the HEADWEAR pages.

Medieval Gemstone Meanings
Gemstones used in jewellery were endowed with special meanings- some medicinal and others representing virtues. These work against the bare skin or needed to be encased as each stone required.

German nun, Hildegard von Bingham wrote extensively about the properties of stones and their values in her treatise, Physica. She also writes what each of them is to be used for and for what afflictions they are best suited.

Gemstone uses
Below is a list of gemstones and their medieval uses, although they must be prepared properly to be of any medicinal use. Once again, please do not reply on these as a replacement for modern medical medicine.

Agate
- Defeats spider or vermin bites
- Promotes prudence and judiciousness
- Cures epilepsy
- Helps lunatics
- Deters thieves from the house

Alabaster
- No use. Do not use

Amber
- Protection against tonsillitis

Amethyst

- Assists with spots on the face
- Prevents tumors
- Good for spider bites
- Prevents drunkenness

Beryl

- Poison neutraliser
- Promotes tranquillity

Carbuncle

- Wards off spirits

Carnelian

- Cures nosebleed

Chalcedony
- Gives tranquillity
- Adds confidence when speaking

Chrysoprase
- Defeats poison
- Epilepsy cure
- Helps to prevent possession by the Devil

Chrysolite

- Beats fevers
- strengthens the heart
- Strengthens knowledge

Crystal

- Improves blurry eyes
- Scrofula cure
- Heart or belly ailment cure

Diamond
- Gives purity and virtue
- Defeats malice
- Cures palsy
- Cures jaundice
- Repels the devil

Emerald

- Annuls the effects of poison
- Good for heartache
- Aids stomach ache
- Increases riches
- Protects from gout
- Protects from epilepsy
- Prevents eye problems

Garnet

- Strengthens the heart

Jacinth

- Prevents fogginess of the eyes

Jasper

- Cures deafness
- Clears a snotty nose
- Wards off bad dreams
- Protects infants

Ligure

- Helps cure stomach ailments
- Cures difficult urination

Limestone

- Used to dispel worms

Magnesian
(magnet)
- Defeats madness
- Overcomes noxious humours

Mother-of-pearl

- Gives poison and weakness. Do not use.

Onyx

- Good for eyes,
- Good for stomach ailments
- Overcomes sadness

Pearls

- Promotes purity
- Fevers and head ailments
- For decoration of clothing
- Unsafe to wear them against the bare skin because products of the sea were believed to be unclean or tainted because they were composed from the sludge. (early medieval period)

Prasine
- Cures fever
- Cures bruises

Red Coral

- Protection against magic spells

Ruby

- Resists poison
- Repels plague
- Promotes exulted love
- Protection from tempests
- Reduces the temptations of the flesh

Sapphire
(blue)
- Promotes marital chastity
- Treats stys
- Gives knowledge
- Removes wrath
- Removes love when not desired
- Garners esteem from a lord
- Expels envy
- Comforts the heart
- Aids the detection of witchcraft

Sard

- Restores hearing
- Promotes safe childbirth

Sardonyx

- Promotes understanding
- Removes illiteracy
- Relieves lust

Topaz

- Poison teller
- Good for the eyes
- Aids with fevers
- Aids the spleen
- Helps with leprosy
- Promotes good virtue

Turquoise

- Prevents danger

 

Copyright © Rosalie Gilbert
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