5 de ago de 2009

JEWELRY OF THE MIDDLE AGES


Munich Treasury

ABOUT THE 12TH CENTURY REVERBERATED STILL THE BYZANTINE JEWELRY DESIGN: A COMBINATION OF MONUMENTAL FORMS WITH RICHLY AND INTRINCATED DECORATION IN FILIGREE ARABESCS, PRECIOUS GEMSTONES (SAPPHIRES, RUBIES, EMERALDS, DIAMONDS, TOURQUOISES, TOPAZS AND PEARLS) AND ENAMELS.


THE MEDIEVAL JEWELS WERE MADE MAINLY BY GOLDSMITHS AS THE PROFESSION OF A JEWELRY DESIGNER ONLY APPEARED BY THE END OF THE 14TH CENTURY WITH PAINTERS THAT WERE COMISSIONED BY KINGS AND POPES.

PRECIOUS GEMSTONES AND PEARLS WERE POLISHED INTO IRREGULAR BUT SMOOTH BEADS. A HOLE WAS DRILLED TO ENABLE THEM TO BE SECURED IN THE PIECE USING A SMALL GOLD WIRE. THIS TECHNIQUE ALLOWED TO CREAT A VERY SECURE SET MORE DURABLE THAN THE STRAIGHT-SIDED COLLETS USED BEFORE.

GEMSTONES COULD EITHER BE COLORED OR RECEIVED A THIN METAL LAYER ON THEIR BACKSIDE TO ENHACE THEIR COLOUR. SOMETIMES THESE PRACTICALS TURNED INTO FRAUDE AND LAWS WERE THEN CREATED IN MANY EUROPEAN COUNTRIES TRYING TO PREVENT IT. IT`S NECESSARY TO SAY THAT THESE LAWS ONLY CONCERNED, BASICALLY, TO GEMSTONES AND NOT TO THE PURENESS OR THE QUALITY OF PRECIOUS METALS LIKE GOLD AND SILVER. AS IN ANTIQUITY AND ALSO IN THE DARK AGES, GOLD HAS REMAINED THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS METAL DURING ALL THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD.

THE GOLDSMITHS OF PARIS HAD THE REPUTATION OF MAKING THE FINEST AND FASHIONABLE JEWELS IN EUROPE AND COLOGNE, NUREMBERG AND VENICE WERE IMPORTANT JEWELRY TRADE CITIES.

THE MAIN DECORATIVE TECHNIQUE FOR JEWELRY IN THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD WAS THE ENAMEL: CLOISONNÉ, CHAMPLEVÉ, TRANSLUCENT, BASSE- TAILLE AND EN RONDE BOSSE. ANOTHER TWO DECORATIVE TECHNIQUES USED BY MEDIEVAL GOLDSMITHS WERE THE CAMEO AND THE INTAGLIO, BOTH ROMAN LEGACIES.

WITH THE GOTIC INFLUENCE STYLE APPEARING AT THE END OF 13TH CENTURY, THE DENSITY OF DECORATION HAS THINNED, GIVING WAY TO THE BEAUTIFUL SIMPLICITY OF GOTHIC STYLE TYPICAL ORNAMENTS. THE GOTHIC STYLE STARTED IN PARIS AND SOON WAS ADOPTED IN WHOLE EUROPE. AN ELEGANT, ANGULAR AND GRACEFUL DESIGN TOOK PLACE IN JEWELRY DESIGN INSTEAD OF THE HEAVY AND ROUND ROMANIC JEWELLERY.

ONE OF THE VERY INTEREST CONSEQUENCES OF THE NEW STYLE WAS THAT EARRINGS AND BRACELETS DISAPPEARED AS ELEMENTS OF JEWELRY EXCEPT IN THE SOUTH OF ITALY DUE TO THE STRONG BYZANTINE INFLUENCE STILL DOMINANT AND IN THE MOOR SPAIN WHERE IT REMAINNED FASHIONABLE UNTIL THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

THE MEDIEVAL ERA BROUGHT THE CROWN TO THE NOBILITY HEADS. LIGHTER AND LESS SOLEMN WERE THE CORONAL AND THE CIRCLET. THE WOMEN’S HAIR WAS ADORNED BY TRESSOIRS (RICH RIBBONS FINELY DECORATED IN GOLD AND PRECIOUS GEMSTONES).


THE HEAVY NECKLACES FROM THE BEGINNING OF MEDIEVAL TIMES WERE REPLACED BY LIGHT GOLD CHAINS SUSTAINING PENDANTS. THE NECKLACE WAS WORN NEAR THE NECKLINE OR SUSTAINED ON THE SHOLDERS AND WAS WORN ALSO BY MEN, VERY FREQUENTLY WITH A JEWELLED PENDANT REPRESENTING A PRESTIGIOUS CHEVALRY ORDER.

THE BROOCH WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF JEWELRY WORE IN THE MIDDLE AGES: THE RICHEST PIECE COULD BE ALSO ADORNED WITH A CAMEO.

THE NOBILITY AND THE RICH BOURGEOISIE WORE ALSO LONG GIRDLES WITH FINE DECORATED BUCKLES, SHOE CLASPS AND THEIR CLOACKS COULD BE ADORNED WITH JEWELS TOO.
RINGS WERE WORN ON EVERY FINGER AND ENGRAVED GEMS COULD BE SET AS SIGNET RINGS.
THE BRACELETS CAME BACK INTO VIEW CIRCA 1390 WORE AS LOVE TOKENS. AT 14TH CENTURY, NEW FASHIONS FROM PARIS APPEARED IN JEWELRY: THE RONDE BOSSE ENAMEL TECHNIQUE INTRODUCED NATURALISTIC (ANIMALS, BIRDS, FLOWERS AND TREES) AND ROMANTIC MOTIVES (DEPICT LADIES, COURTLY LOVE AND LILIES) APPLIED SPECIALLY ON BROOCHS.

BY THE BEGUINNING OF THE 15TH CENTURY WITH THE GEMSTONE CUT DEVELOPMENT, THE JEWELS WERE HIGHLY ORNAMENTED WITH GEMSTONES IN A SIMPLE METAL SET. THE FAVORITE SET FOR A SINGLE GEMSTONE WAS THE ENAMELED ROSE.

THE MEDIEVAL JEWELRY, WITH ITS IRREGULAR CUT GEMSTONES, MAYBE IS THE MOST POETIC EVER MADE: COULD SUGGEST THE MYSTERIES OF HEAVEN, THE LOVE GARDEN DELICACIES, THE CHEVALRY PRESTIGIOUS AND THE HEART NOBILITY.