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Elizabethan Jewellery

Elizabethan Jewellery was very same as the jewellery worn in today’s times. Jewellery was loved by the people especially women during the Elizabethan Era and formed a major part of the lives of the people. Women loved to wear and flaunt jewellery which was made of different types of stones and precious items.

However, jewellery was only available to the upper classes and nobility because of its cost and affordability factor. Being very expensive only the higher classes could afford to wear it.

Queen Elizabeth I wearing precious jewels
Elizabethan Jewellery

Stones used in the Jewellery


The jewellery was made up of diamonds, ruby, sapphire, ivory and precious and semi-precious gems. Ivory was the most common precious stone which was used in the jewellery of the Elizabethan era. 

The Elizabethan Jewellery
Ivory Necklaces- Very Common during Elizabethan Era

Other precious stones included emerald, Topaz, Opal, Coloured diamonds etc. Semi-precious stones were lesser expensive to the precious ones and included Turquoise, Onyx, Amber, Crystal, Agate, Bloodstone, Carnelian and Coral.

Elizabethan Pendants
Elizabethan Pendant made of stones

There were cheaper products also which was made of glass, metal, wood, bone, horns of animals etc and was worn by the lower classes of the society. There was a clear cut demarcation which could be made between the jewellery of upper and lower classes.

Stylish neckpiece made of precious stones

Elizabethan Jewellery Items 

There were many jewellery pieces used as the necklace, bangles, brooches, pins, watches, rings, earrings, bracelets etc. The brooches could be pinned to the coats, shawls, gowns, scarfs, ties and even hats and buckles.

Elizabethan Gold Brooch

Other common pieces of jewellery items included pendants and chains.

Elizabethan Jewellery pieces
The Elizabethan Jewellery of England

16th-century jewellery had a lot of complex stone carvings. Semi-precious stones were often carved in the shapes of human, animals and ships. Most gems were cabochon cut in which the tops were smoothly cut and polished. They were usually square or oval.

The Elizabethan era produced rings that were extremely expensive and were mostly worn by the nobility, although, the middle-class also used less expensive ordinary rings. Queen Elizabeth was so fond of her coronation ring that she never removed it from her finger in her twenty-five years of reign. The rings wore by the kings, queens and the nobility usually contained diamonds.

Smaller stones were set around the central piece of the rings. Wedding rings had golden bands engraved with a motto on the inner side of it. Signet rings were stronger and could be worn daily. They were usually made of gold as well.

Elizabethan era rings
Elizabethan era rings

Earrings became very fashionable in the late 15th century. They could be pearl, jewel or single rings. Earrings of pendant shapes were also used with three or more pearls or other stones hanging from the central stone.

Elizabethan earrings were also attached to a ribbon which was tied in a bow. This style became popular in the 16th century.

Used for Decoration

During the Elizabethan times, jewellery was also used for decoration and in decorative items. This was placed in the drawing and living rooms. The upper classes used such decorative items made up of expensive metals and gems lavishly. This was used to flaunt their money and wealth. The Elizabethan era is known to be famous for the fashion and style of a woman.

Till today, the Elizabethan jewellery is considered to be a mark and symbol of great significance and value.

Elizabethan Chandelier
chandelier used for decoration during Elizabethan Era

Other Decorative items used during the Elizabethan Era

Apart from the precious stones and diamonds, there were several other decorative pieces of jewellery used by the Elizabethan people. However, this was used more by the people of the lower classes and poorer sections of society.

Some of them are:

  1. Ear Strings-  Strings worn around the ear for decoration and style and made up of Opal and Coral.
  2. Mirrors- Looking glasses and mirrors made up of glass and metal.
  3. Perfume Pomanders- These were round shape vials which were highly decorative and beautiful. Generally made of fine quality glass and crystal.
  4. Beads-Strings of semi-precious stones and rosary beads which were worn around the neck as a neckpiece.
  5. Buckles- Decorative metal and shimmery buckles made up of glass, crystal, buttons and semi-precious stones and worn with shoes and belts.
  6. Buttons- Shiny and shimmery buttons were used to add gleam and shine to ordinary dresses which made it fashionable and ornate. These were usually worn by women in blouses and upper outfits which covered the torso.
  7. Carcanet – These were worn around the hair, neck and arms and wrists. These were tight fittings and made up of expensive stones and precious ornaments. 
  8. Other Items like purses, bags, umbrellas, stockings also had exquisite pieces of semi-precious and gems studded.    
    Ornate Neck piece
    Elizabethan Necklace

    Symbol Of Wealth and Affluence

    Elizabethan Jewellery was a symbol of affluence and wealth. It was worn to show off the power and prestige attached to it. The people from the nobility worn it as a symbol of pomp and ostentation. So, we see the Elizabethan Era was very rich in fashionable Elizabethan Jewellery and Ornaments. 

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