Precious Stones - Decorations
( Originally Published 1880 )
THE wearing of jewels, and their adaptation to various articles of costume, dates from the most ancient times. I can but briefly allude to some particular objects. The armilla, or bracelet, is mentioned in Gen. xxiv. 22. It has been through-out all ages the most universal of all ornaments of the person, and was worn either on the wrist or the arm. In the Assyrian bas-reliefs at Nineveh, the kings are represented with the arms encircled by armlets and bracelets, remarkable for the beauty of their form. The clasps were formed by the heads of animals, and the centre by stars and rosettes, probably (observes Layard) inlaid with precious stones.
"The Egyptians," says Sir G. Wilkinson, "wore ARMLETS and BRACELETS frequently inlaid with jewels ; some were in the shape of snakes, and others, as single rings, worn by men as well as women. In the Leyden Museum is a gold bracelet bearing the name of the third Thotmes, which was doubtless once worn by that monarch, and without any great license of imagination we may suppose it to have been seen by Moses himself if Thotmes was the Pharaoh who oppressed the Israelites."
It is singular that in our own country, among the Anglo-Saxons, the bracelets of the male sex were more costly than those allotted to the fair ; they were of gold, silver, and ivory, enriched, sometimes, with precious stones.
In the poems of Beowulf we find, respecting a Danish queen
" Waltheow came forth
She, the queen, circled with bracelets."
During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries brace-lets were very common, and were frequently adorned with jewels. They were worn as love-tokens by both sexes. In Cupid's Revenge," by Beaumont and Fletcher, we read
" Given ear-rings we will wear
In Barnfield's "Affectionate Shepherd" (1594)
" I would put amber bracelets on thy wrist,
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, presented Queen Elizabeth with an " armlet or shackle of gold, all over fairly garnished with rubies and diamonds, having within, in the clasp, a watch, and outside, a fair lozenge diamond.
NECKLACES, handsome and richly ornamented, were a principal part of the dress, both of men and women, among the ancient Egyptians ; and some idea of the number of jewels they wore (remarks Sir G. Wilkinson) may be formed from those borrowed by the Israelites at the time of the Exodus, and by the paintings of Thebes. They consisted of gold or of beads, of various qualities and shapes, disposed according to fancy and enriched with jewels.
Necklaces of gold thickly set with gems were worn by the Greeks and Romans of both sexes. There was a famous necklace of the most costly precious stones upon the statue of Vesta in Rome, to whose vengeance Zosimus attributes the tragic end of Serena, Stilicho's widow, who had despoiled her of it. By the command of Honorius she was strangled.
The necklace taken from the neck of the Hindoo King Jaipál, captured by Mahmud (A.D. 1001) was composed of large pearls, rubies, etc., and was valued at two hundred thousand dinars, or a good deal more than a hundred thousand pounds.
Homer mentions a necklace curiously wrought of gold intertwined with amber, which Eurymachus presented to Penelope.
Chaucer, in the " Romaunt of the Rose," says of the necklace, or chevesaile as it was termed in French :—
" About her necke of gentle entaile,
The dress of a lady in 1485, that of Isabella Cheyne, in Blickling Church, Norfolk, shows a neck-lace formed of pendant jewels exceedingly massive and splendid.
In the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII. the necklace frequently assumed the form of a jewelled collar, with a central pendant. Anna Boleyn wore a simple row of pearls with a large one suspended from the centre. In the reign of Elizabeth it was not uncommon to wear several necklaces, and to allow them to hang to the waist where they were looped to the girdle. A portrait of the Countess of Bedford, in the same reign, exhibits that lady in a most magnificent one of lozenge-shaped groups of jewels hanging round her shoulders, and gathered in a festoon at her breast, from whence it hangs in an elegant loop to the waist. The. Earl of Leicester, in the fifteenth year of Elizabeth's reign, presented her with a rich carcanet or collar of gold, enriched with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds. Anne of Denmark, wife of James I., wears several round her neck, as well as a large band of four rows of pearls, descending like a baldrick from the right shoulder to the waist on the left side.
Mary Queen of Scots had a carbuncle appended to her necklace, valued at five hundred crowns.
Amongst the list of monies received by the Earl of Craven as executor to Prince Rupert, we find, " of Mrs. Ellen Gwynne, for the great pearl necklace, £4,520."
The great display of these rich ornaments ceased in the next reign, but they were scarcely ever worn in greater profusion than at present.
In the Herz collection of jewellery there was a necklace formed out of splendid rubies and emeralds, of fine colour, and as large as horse-beans.
The Countess of Mount-Charles possesses a neck-lace and pendant of remarkable beauty, of Italian workmanship, of the sixteenth century. It is composed of gold open-worked medallions, exquisitely enamelled and jewelled, with rubies, etc., representing, in minute and beautifully executed groups of figures, events in the life of our Blessed Lord. This superb specimen of Italian cinque-cento work has been attributed to Benvenuto Cellini, and is at least as good as anything extant known to be by his hand.
CARCANETS, from the French carcan, a necklace set with precious stones, or strung with pearls, are frequently mentioned by our olden dramatists. In " Cynthia's Revels " we read :
" Give him jewels, bracelets, carcanets."
In the " City Madam " :
" Your carkanets
That did adorn your neck of equal value."
It seems, however, that the word was not confined to a necklace, but applied to the jewels, or wreaths of precious stones, like those worn about the neck, entwined in ladies' hair ; thus Randolph sings :
" I'll clasp thy neck where should be set
CHAINS and COLLARS of gold, probably adorned with precious stones, appear to have been as much used among the Hebrews, for ornament and official distinction, as they are among ourselves at the pre-sent day. The earliest mention of them occurs in Gen. xli. 42, where we are told that it formed a part of the investiture of Joseph in Egypt. A later in-stance occurs in Dan. v. 29, from which we learn that it was part of a dress of honour at Babylon. Ahasueras placed a chain round the neck of Mordecai. The ancient Persians were extremely fond of gold and jewelled ornaments, and conspicuous among the various objects was a chain.
Chains and collars were evidently favourite deco-rations in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, in our own country. At the marriage of Richard II. with Isabel of France, there was, among other rich presents to the bride, a collar or chain of gold, enriched with jewels worth three thousand pounds of our money. Several kings appear to have had collars of their "livery," as they were termed, which they bestowed as marks of favour or friend-ship on persons of various ranks and both sexes. Richard II., in addition to his favourite device, a white hart, had a livery collar of broom-pods. Henry of Bolingbroke, on ascending the throne as Henry IV., retained his well-known livery collar of SS., derived from his father, John of Gaunt. Edward IV. had a collar composed of two of his badges, the sun in its splendour, and the white rose ; while a third, the white lion of March, was added as a pendant. Richard III. retained the Yorkist collar, substituting for the lion pendant a boar. Of the portraits of Henry VII., the greater number represent him wearing a broad and rich collar of gold, of irregular outline, thickly studded with jewels. Henry VIII. is represented by Holbein, in the portrait at Lee Priory, wearing a rich jewel appended by a long chain. At the reception of Anne of Cleves, at Paris, we are told that the Earl of Southampton wore a chain baldrick-wise, at which hung a whistle of gold, set with rich stones of great value, the insignia of his office as Lord Admiral of England. Philip of Spain, on his marriage with Queen Mary, wore a collar of beaten gold, full of diamonds of inestimable value, at which hung the jewel of the Golden Fleece.
The Earl of Leicester presented Queen Elizabeth, in the twenty-third year of her reign, with " a chain of gold, made like a pair of beads, contain ing 8 long pieces, garnished with small diamonds, and fourscore and one smaller pieces, fully garnished with like diamonds, and hanging thereat a round clock, fully garnished with diamonds, and an appendage of diamonds hanging thereat." This was the third or fourth jewel with a watch presented to the Queen by Leicester.
James I. of Scotland, in the " King's Quhair," describes his first sight of Lady Jane Beaufort, who afterwards was his Queen : __
" Of her array the form if I shall write,
" About her necke, white as the fire amail,
Gold chains were frequently bequeathed in wills, and many are described as enriched with precious stones. The portraits of our nobility and distinguished personages, for several ages, to the death of James I., gave fine samples of goldsmiths' and jewellers' work.
In former times the GARTERS of the sovereign's order of knighthood were usually enriched with jewels. This is confirmed by the will of the Lord Treasurer Dorset, made in 1607. He distributed his insignia of the Garter among several friends who were knights of the order. The collar was not jewelled, but the image of St. George at the end of it was enriched with precious stones at the pleasure of the knight. The Duke of Buccleugh possesses a "George" pendant of the seventeenth century, enamelled, and richly jewelled with rose diamonds. The Duke of Richmond and Lord de L'Isle and Dudley have also splendid badges of the same order.
Ashmole, in his " History of the Most Noble Order of the Garter," remarks : "Nor ought the collar to be adorned or enriched with precious stones (as the George may be), such being prohibited by the law of the order."
The Garter sent to Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, had the George enriched with, eighty-four large fine diamonds.
Among the splendid jewels in the Castle of Rosen-berg, in Denmark, are some badges of the " Armed Hand," a mailed arm in green enamel, enriched with diamonds, a decoration of great beauty, and one which Christian IV. gave only to his special favourites.
Among the jewels of King Charles I. which were sold were, " a George, containing 161 diamonds, 71 lbs 2S.; a George cut in onyx, with 41 diamonds, £37 ; a small George with a few diamonds, L9 ; a George with 5 rubies and 3 diamonds ; also a George cut in a garnet."
Sir Richard Wallace has presented the Earl of Beaconsfield with the very jewels worn by Charles I. as his own badges of the Order of the Garter.
In the possession of J. Rainey, Esq., is a memorial locket of Charles I., carved in peach-stone. After the King's execution, the Knights of the Garter wore a crystal case, mounted in gold, containing a likeness of the King and the insignia of the order, carved in peach-stone. The whole ornament was in the shape of a pearl, to imitate that which the King wore in his left ear.
The only other known specimen was lately in the possession of Lady Charlotte Bathurst.
The George which King Charles had at his martyrdom was curiously engraved in an onyx, set about with twenty-one large table diamonds in the fashion of a garter. On the reverse of the George was the picture of the Queen, set in a case of gold, and surrounded by another garter, adorned with an equal number of diamonds, as was that of Charles II., also set with diamonds.
Amongst the list of monies received by the Earl of Craven, as executor of Prince Rupert, we find, " Of his Grace the Duke of Norfolk, for a diamond George, and an onyx George and a Garter, set with rubies, £313."
POMANDERS, for holding perfumes, were often highly enriched with precious stones. They were sometimes made in the form of an orange, and contained ambergris, nutmegs, cloves, etc.
In the "Booke of Robin Conscience" (about 1600), we find: __
" I will have my pomander of most sweet smell,
No custom is more ancient or more universal than that of wearing EAR-RINGS. Among the Hebrews their use appears to have been confined to the women. That they were not worn by men is implied in the Book of Judges, where they are mentioned as distinctive of the Ishmaelite tribes. Ear-rings are seen as decorative ornaments on the Assyrian bas-reliefs. Those worn by the Egyptian ladies of high or royal rank were sometimes in the shape of an asp, set with precious stones. Three pearls, increasing downwards in size, composed the ear-pendants most admired by the queens of ancient Persia. The Rev. Mr. Rawlinson, in his " Five Great Monarchies of the Eastern World," describes a king of ancient Persia as richly adorned with gold ornaments. He had ear-rings of gold in his ears, often inlaid with jewels ; he wore golden brace-lets on his wrists, and he had a chain or collar of gold about his neck. In his girdle, which was also of gold, he carried a `short sword, the sheath of which was formed of a single precious stone, perhaps of jasper, agate, or lapis-lazuli.
Golden ear-rings with precious stones set in them were found in the tomb of Cyrus, at Pasargadæ. When Hera adorns herself to captivate Jove, it is said by Homer
" Her zone, from which a hundred tassels hang
The ear-rings worn by the ladies of Greece and Rome were also generally of pearls, three or four to each ear, sometimes of, immense value, besides others of precious stones.
The extravagance of the Greek and Roman ladies for ear-rings almost exceeds belief. Pliny says, "They seek for pearls at the bottom of the Red Sea, and search the bowels of the earth for emeralds, to ornament their ears." Seneca tells us that a single pair was worth the revenue of a large estate. Ear-rings were worn by young men of high rank, not only as ornaments, but from superstition, as amulets or charms. The early Saxons had the same custom, and ear-rings are mentioned by Chaucer. The rage for these pendant decorations was chiefly in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Stubbs, in his " Anatomie of Abuses," I 583, mentions the women as being so far bewitched, as " they are not ashamed to make holes in their ears, whereat they hang rings and other jewels of gold and precious stones ; but this," he adds, " is not so much frequented amongst women as men."
Men also wore these effeminate ornaments in the reign of James I. The ear-rings worn by the Incas of Peru were of enormous size and richness ; they were inserted wholly into the gristle of the ear, which they distended towards the shoulder. In the East Indies they are also of immense size, frequently. as large as saucers, and generally of gold and valuable jewels. An incision is made through the ear, and a filament formed of cocoa-nut leaves tightly rolled together is thrust into the opening. This filament is constantly enlarged, till it has stretched the orifice to two inches in diameter. The perfection required being then attained, the wound is allowed to heal, and the ear bears its precious and ponderous ornaments.
Some rich and beautiful ear-rings of English and Spanish work of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were exhibited, in 1872, at the South Kensington Museum.
BROOCHES, ring-shaped, were worn from times of remote antiquity, and are found among Etruscan and Roman remains ; also in Saxon places of burial in England. The circular fibula, or brooch, frequently enriched with costly gems, was used to fasten the cloak or mantle over the breast ; the pin was affixed beneath. Some splendid examples of these ornaments may be seen in works on Saxon antiquities. The Norman brooch was more like an ornamental open circle of jewels and stones, with a central pin. The mediæval ring-brooches are interesting chiefly on account of the legends and ornaments engraved upon them, which occasionally appear to have been talismanic, but usually express the love of which such gifts were the token. Of the former kind is the beautiful brooch, set with gems, and curiously formed with two tongues, formerly in the possession of Colonel Camp-bell of Glen Lion, and inscribed with the names of the three Kings of the East.
Chaucer, in " Troilus and Creseida," says :
" A broche of gold and azure,
Chaucer describes a carpenter's wife as wearing a very large brooch :
" A broche she bare upon hire low colere As brode as is the bosse of a bokelere."
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, brooches garnished with jewels were commonly worn by all persons of rank and means, and were of great value and beauty. Holbein designed several for Henry VIII., the drawings of which are still in the British Museum.
The brooches were placed not only about the body but were worn in caps and hats by both sexes. Boasting of the riches of Virginia, Seagul, in the play of " Eastward Hoe !" (1605), says " that the people there stuck rubies and diamonds in their children's caps, as common as our children wear saffron-gilt broches and groats with holes in them."
In Scott's " Lord of the Isles," there is a description in six stanzas of the Brooch of Lorn
" Whence the brooch of burning gold
In the " Lay of the Last Minstrel," the wife of Watt Tinlinn, the shoemaker, is described as
"Stout, ruddy, and dark brow'd,
Brooches of value were heirlooms. They were worn in the cap for various reasons, one of which was as a decoration. They were sometimes thus worn as tokens of pilgrimage, and bore the figure of the saint at whose shrine they were distributed. Among the jewels of Queen Mary are mentioned "crosses and Ihesus brouches."
BUTTONS of diamonds and other precious stones are frequently mentioned as decorations of dress by old writers, especially in the sixteenth century, when their use became general among the wealthy.
Cellini describes the button he made for the pontifical cope, the execution of which gained him great fame, and is spoken of by Vasari in high praise :—" I had laid the diamond exactly in the centre of the work, and over it I had represented God the Father sitting in a sort of free, easy attitude, which suited admirably well with the rest of the piece, and did not in the least crowd the diamond ; His right hand was lifted up, giving His blessing. Under the diamond I had drawn three little boys, who supported it with their arms raised aloft. One of these boys, which stood in the middle, was in full, and the other two in half, relievo. Round it was a number of figures of boys, placed among other glittering jewels. The remainder of God the Father was covered with a cloak, which wantoned in the wind, from whence issued several figures of boys, with other striking ornaments most beautiful to behold. This work was made of a white stucco, upon a black stone."
The Pope was so delighted with this work of art that he exclaimed, "Benvenuto, had you been my very self, you could not have designed this with greater propriety."
GLOVES do not appear to have been worn by either sex before the eleventh century. Jewelled gloves formed part of the regal habit of the Norman monarchs. In the effigy of Henry II. at Fontevraud jewels are represented in the centre of the gloves ; also on the statue of Richard I. in the same abbey, and on the effigy of King John at Worcester. That gloves were worn by the higher classes in the reign of Henry I. we find from the Bishop of Durham's escape from the Tower, as, " having forgotten his gloves, he rubbed the skin off his hands to the bone in sliding down the rope from his window." In the reign of Henry II., gloves—some short, some reaching to the elbows—enriched with jewellery and embroidery, were worn generally by the nobility. On opening the tomb of Edward I. in Westminster Abbey in 1774, the ornaments belonging to the backs of the gloves were found lying near the hands. Queen Elizabeth gave George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, her glove, which he had encircled with diamonds, and bore it after-wards in tilts, in front of his high-crowned hat.
In the Book of the Royal Wardrobe of Scotland (1579), among other articles of jewellery, is mentioned a hawk-glove set with twelve rubies, seven garnets, fifty-two great pearls, and the rest set over with small pearls. Queen Mary of Scotland's ordinary gloves were of the gauntlet form, and embroidered with gold, silver, coloured silks, and small pearls.
Pearl-embroidered slippers are mentioned as worn by ladies, in Massinger's play of " The Guardian " (1632).
CHAPLETS OR THE HEAD were sometimes decorated with jewels; thus, in the " Lay of Sir Launval "
" Their heads were dig-ht well with all
Barclay, in the " Ship of Fooles " (commencement of the sixteenth century), describes Pleasure as singing
" All my vertùe is of golde pure,
HATS were ornamented with jewels on the bands.
Henry VIII., in 1514, received among other gifts from the Pope a hat or cap of purple velvet with two jewelled rosettes. This monarch is represented in an old picture, at the time of his interview with Francis I., with a hat of black velvet, having a white feather turning over the brim, and beneath it a broad band of rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, intermixed with a profusion of pearls.
Crispin de Passé's portrait of James I. exhibits him wearing a jewelled hat of very costly and elaborate character. Single pearls were also frequently hung at the side where the brims were turned up, or groups of precious stones, set in gold, like a modern brooch, were placed in the centre of the hat, or else confined to the stems of its group of feathers.
In the comedy of " Patient Grissell " (1603) one of the characters says, " Sir Owen and myself encountering, I veiled my upper garment, and enriching my head again with a finer velvet cap, which I then wore with a band to it of orient pearl and gold, and a foolish sprig of some nine or ten pounds price or so, we grew to an importance."
Lady Fanshawe, in her " Memoirs," gives a description of the costume of a gentleman at this period (1610) ; in which a black beaver hat is mentioned, but-toned on the left side with a jewel of twelve hundred pounds value. A rich upright curious gold chain made at the Indies, at which hung the king, his master's picture, richly set with diamonds and cost three hundred pounds. On his fingers he wore two rich rings.
In a curious letter in the British Museum from James I. to his son and favourite Buckingham, when at Madrid in 1623, there is an allusion to the fashion of wearing jewels in the hat. " I send you for youre wearing the Three Brethren that ye know full well but newlie sett, and the Mirroure of France, the fellowe of the Portugall dyament, quiche I wolde wishe you to weare alone in your hatte, with a little blackke feather." To Buckingham, " As for thee my sweete Gosseppe, I sende thee a faire table diamonde, quiche I wolde once have gevin thee before, if thow wolde have taken it, and I have hung a faire peare pearle to it for wearing on thy hatte or quhair thow plaisis ; and if my Babie will spaire the two long diamonts in forme of an anker, with the pendant dyamont, it were fit for an Admirall to weare, and he hath enowgh better jewells for his Mistresse. . . . If my Babie will not spare the Anker from his Mistresse, he may well lende thee his rownde broache to weare, and yett he shall have jewells to weare in his hatte for three great dayes."
An ornament attached to the hat in former times was the brooch, which was sometimes highly enriched, and of great value. In a note to Shakspeare by Steevens, he says, " a brooch was a cluster of gems affixed to a pin, and anciently worn in the hats of people of distinction," etc.
In Ben Jonson's " Poetaster," " Honour's a good broach to wear in a man's hat at all times." So " Timon of Athens," Act iii., " He gave me a jewel the other day, and now he has beat it out' of my hat."
Sir Walter Scott, in the " Lay of the Last Minstrel," describing the attire of King James before the battle of Flodden, says :
" His bonnet all of crimson fair Was buttoned with a ruby rare."
SHOES, richly ornamented and decorated with jewels, were among the prodigal displays of the ancient Romans. Virgil alludes to light boots, garnished with gold and amber :
" Tum leves ocreas electro auroque recocto."
The shoes of Anglo-Saxon princes or high ecclesiastical dignitaries are generally represented of gold, ornamented. Edward III. wore shoes profusely embroidered with precious stones.
The Duke de Valentinois, son of Pope Alexander VI., visited, in 1498, Louis XII. of France. Brantome informs us that the duke's robe of red satin and cloth of gold was embroidered with splendid jewels and enormous pearls. His cap had double rows of five or six rubies, as big as a large bean, which threw out a great light. On the borders of his scarf there were quantities of precious stones, and he was covered with them even to his boots, which were larded with gold cords and embroidered with pearls.
The shoes of Charlemagne, preserved in the Imperial Treasury of Vienna, are richly ornamented, and studded with pearls and precious stones.
Shoe-roses, or bunches of ribbons, were very fashionable in the court of Elizabeth, and were some-times enriched with costly jewels. Massinger, in his " City Madam," says
" Rich pantouffles in ostentation shows, And roses worth a family."
Nothing could surpass the sumptuous attire of Cardinal Wolsey—" his very shoes," says Roy, being
" Of gold and stones precious,
GIRDLES were, in former times, of great richness. The figure of Queen Clotilde, consort of King Clovis, represented on the door of the church of St. Germain des Prés, wears a girdle, ornamented with jewels, and a long cord hangs from it, and a broad band encircles the waist, with precious stones. The " Girdle of Richesse," in Chaucer's translation of the "Romance of the Rose," is described as having a buckle of precious stones. He has other allusions to them. In the effigy of Henry IV. at Canterbury Cathedral, the king's royal mantle is fastened across the breast by a broad band richly jewelled. The author of the " Romance of Garin " describes his hero with a girdle of fine gold, enriched with precious stones.
It is said that the poetical name for a BELT, or GIRDLE, was taken from Baldrick, Chancellor of William the Conqueror, and who is supposed to have worn one of uncommon magnificence.
During the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII. very beautiful examples of ladies' girdles occur. They sometimes took the form of chains, particularly in the time of Mary and Elizabeth, and had large pendants at the ends. They appear to have been frequently entirely composed of limbs of metal, gold or silver, with flowers, engraved cameos, or groups of precious stones intermixed.
The STOMACHER, jewelled, was worn by men and women from the reign of Edward IV. t0 Henry VIII., inclusive. Hall mentions one worn by the latter sovereign, embroidered with diamonds, rubies, great pearls, and other rich stones. The gown or jacket was worn over it. Ladies' stomachers, also, were often richly jewelled, particularly in the reign of Elizabeth. Jewellery again came into fashion at the Restoration, and from that period until 1790 the stomacher was a conspicuous portion of female dress.
SHOULDER-KNOTS were bunches of ribbon or lace, first worn in the time of Charles II. They were frequently enriched with precious stones. Anne of Austria presented the Duke of Buckingham, while at the French court, with one having twelve diamond pendants attached to it.
FANS were in great favour at the court of Elizabeth ; they were made of feathers, and the handles were frequently inlaid with precious stones. In 1574, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, gave the queen a fan of white feathers, set in a handle of gold, enriched on both sides with diamonds and rubies, and on each side a white bear (his cognizance) and two pearls hanging ; also a lion rampant with a white muzzled bear at his feet. A delicate allusion to his loyalty and devotion. In 1595, at an entertainment given to the pleasure-loving queen at Kew, by one of her great crown officers, " at her first lighting she received a fine fan with the handle garnished with diamonds." At another time Sir Francis Drake presented her with " a fan of feathers, white and red, enamelled with a half-moon of mother-of-pearl, within which was an-other half-moon, garnished with sparks of diamonds, and a few seed-pearls on the one side, having her majesty's picture within it, and, on the reverse, a device with a crown over it."
The most valuable collection of modern fans was that of the ex-empress of the French, Eugenie, which was offered for sale a few years since by Mr. Harry Emanuel. Among these was one that had belonged to Marie Antoinette ; the gold stick is encrusted with enamel, pearls, rubies, and bouquets of diamonds, the whole being of pierced ivory in imitation of lace, with a Dutch landscape on each side of the mount. This fan is ornamented with the imperial eagle in diamonds.
The practice of carrying fans in official processions, as insignia of honour and power in China, is of great antiquity, and in early ages the custom was not confined to that country. On the monuments of ancient Egypt are to be found representations of fans carried on the tops of long poles, just as to-day in China, before the mighty of the land.
RINGS are mentioned in connection with signets in the Holy Scriptures, and date, therefore, from the most remote times. The Egyptians had various representations engraved on their rings, the most common of which was the scarabeeus, or beetle, the symbol of the world. Etruscan rings were frequently of rare beauty, and of great value. The Greeks and Romans were remarkable for their fondness for rings, which were worn in profusion, enriched with precious stones, and engraved with exquisite taste. Rings were in common use among the Anglo-Saxons, those of King Ethelwulf, the father of Alfred the Great, and his daughter AEthelswith in the British Museum, are fine specimens of the goldsmith's art at this period. It was in the Middle Ages, however, that the manufacture of rings attained the highest perfection in our country. Superstitious virtues were ascribed to rings from very early periods, and still prevail with some vitality in Eastern countries, and, in many cases, throughout Europe. They have been, and are still, used in religious and secular investiture, betrothments and weddings, for posies and mottoes, as memorials of the dead, and no article of decoration has been so extensively and prodigally used in most ages and countries.
Female HEAD-DRESSES, jewelled, were much wornformerly. In the old tapestry of the time of Henry VIII., some details are given of the ornaments, as jewels,, drops, and spangles. A peculiar fashion of the head-dress, the frontlet, was sometimes very costly. The cap (as well as the lappets) was frequently very highly enriched with jewels, and generally formed into net-work, from whence it derived the word caul. Holinshed describes the procession of Queen Mary in 1553, and says that " she had on her head a Kali of cloth of tinsel/ beeset with pearle and stone, and above the same upon her head a round circle of gold beeset so richly with pretious stones that the value thereof was inestimable ; the same Kali and circle being so massive and ponderous that she was faine to bear up her head with her hand." The head-dresses of Queen Elizabeth were richly ornamented, especially with pearls.
In James I.'s letter to his son in Spain, among other jewels sent for the Infanta, is a " head dressing of two and twenty great peare pearles ; and ye shall give her three goodlie peare pendant dyamonts, qwhair of the biggest to be worne at a needle on the middeth of her forehead, and one in everie eare."
During the seventh century much talent was exhibited by the Anglo-Saxon females in the art of EMBROIDERY. Women of the highest rank excelled in it. Spinning was so common an employment, even among women of royal blood, that the will of King Alfred terms his family, who were of the female sex, " the spindle side," from which the modern term, spinster, is derived.
In these early times there were abundance of goldsmiths and jewellers to assist the fair workwomen in enriching their work. Bede says that they were skilled in collecting " remarkable and precious stones, to be placed among the gold and silver, which were mostly of a ruddy or aerial colour." Of the Anglo-Danish period, we learn that the Danes were effeminately gay in their dress. The coronation mantle of Harold Harefoot, given to the Abbey of Croyland, was of silk, embroidered with flowers of gold.
The vestment which Canute presented to the same abbey was of silk, embroidered with golden eagles, and the rich pall which he ordered to be laid over the body of Edmund, Ironside was embroidered with the " likeness of golden apples, and ornamented with pearls."
Edward the Confessor is described as wearing a mantle or cloak of velvet, embroidered in gold, ornamented with precious stones, and lined with ermine. It was fastened by a velvet band, covered with jewels.
In "Sir Launval's Romance," a lady's saddle is described of great richness, having in the saddle-bow two jewels of India, very beautiful to be seen, in consequence of the great art with which they were wrought. On the visit of the Duke of Valentinois, son of Pope Alexander VI., to Louis XII. of France, in 1498, Brantome mentions that his horse was loaded with gold leaves and embroidery of goldsmiths' work, with pearls and jewels thickly strewn.
Tavernier, in his " Travels," says :—" Le Roy (de Perse) donna audience dans la grande sale du Palais à l'Ambassadeur des Urbeks ou des Tartares. Tous les grands Seigneurs et Officiers de la Couronne se trouverent dans la premiere Cour, oû l'Ambassadeur devoit passer, et il y avait neuf chevaux de parade dont les harnois estoient très-riches et tous differents. Il y en avoit deux tous couverts de diamons, deux autres de rubis, deux autres d'emeraudes, deux autres de turquoises, et un autre tout brodé de belles perles."
So extravagant, in the Middle Ages, was the decoration of the trappings of female horsemanship, that Frederick, King of Sicily, restrained it by a sumptuary law, by which no woman, even of the highest rank, should presume to use a saddle-cloth in which were gold, silver, or pearls, etc.
Henry VIII. gave his nephew, Charles V., a foot-cloth of gold tissue for his horse, bordered with precious stones.
A portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, in the possession of the Baroness Braye, represents her palfrey as trapped with purple velvet, and cut out in lattice shells, on which are worked a net of pearl beads. The bridle and head-gear are richly jewelled, and ornamented with pearls and bands of ribbon.
Sir John Bowring, in his account of Siam, de-scribes the State horses of the king as being adorned, some with pearls, others with diamonds, others with emeralds and rubies, and the reins were thick cords of gold, of exquisite workmanship. This was in 1718, when an embassy was sent by Philip V. of Spain to the King of Siam.
An account of the jewel-decorated carriage of a Burmese sovereign, captured by the English in 1825 at Tavoy, a seaport in the Burmese Empire, and illustrations of this wonderful object are given in Hone's "Every-day Book" (vol. 1). It is said to have occupied three years in building, at an expense of £3,125. The jewels which decorated it were valued at £12,500. On the forepart of the frame of the carriage, mounted on a silver pedestal, was the Tee-bearer, a small carved image with a lofty gold wand in his hands, surmounted with a small Tee, the emblem of sovereignty. The figure was richly dressed in green velvet, the front laced with diamonds, with a triple belt round the body, of blue sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds ; his leggings were also embroidered with sapphires. In front of his cap was a rich cluster of white sapphires, with a double star of rubies and emeralds; it was also thickly studded with carbuncles. The pagoda roof of the carriage was bordered with amethysts, emeralds, diamonds, garnets, hyacinths, rubies, and other precious stones. The seat or throne of the carriage was covered with jewels, the central belt being particularly rich in oriental stones of rare value. At each end of the throne was the figure of a mythological lion, the feet and teeth of which were of pearl, and the bodies covered with sapphires, hyacinths, emeralds, diamonds, rubies, etc.
In our own times we have the gorgeous splendour of the East shown, amongst other things, in the horse-trappings of the Shah of Persia, who, on his late visit to England, astonished the beholders with the pro-fusion of precious stones with which the saddle of his charger was covered.
The same rich display in the decoration of their horses and elephants, was shown by the Indian princes on the visit of the Prince of Wales.
The knights of old, proud of their spurs, were not content with steel ones. Brass and silver were pressed into service, and spurs were chased, gilt, decorated with jewels, and adorned with mottoes.
Aeneas Sylvius (afterwards Pius II.), in the fifteenth century, writes with great admiration of the wealth of the German cities, although even then their splendour began to decline :—" What shall I say of the neck-chains of the men, and the bridles of the horses, which are made of the purest gold ; and of the spears and scabbards, which are covered with jewels ? "
Our " Merry Monarch," Charles II., decorated his stirrups with three hundred and twenty diamonds.
The Scriptural allusions to precious stones are numerous, and the value and importance are seen in their application to sacred purposes ; as, for instance, the adornment of the breastplate of the high-priest, etc. In Exodus we read of the jewels of silver and gold borrowed by the Israelites from the Egyptians. In the twenty-eighth chapter of Job we find mention of silver, gold, iron, brass (copper), sapphires, onyxes, topazes, rubies, pearls, coral, and crystal, which imply a knowledge of the art of mining and the practice of navigation. The mineral and metallic substances are described as lying " concealed in the dark caverns of the earth, where light and darkness meet, where the lion's foot hath not trod, nor the piercing eye of the vulture hath reached "; as being extracted thence by persevering labour and skill, ardent in the pursuit of wealth. There is no difficulty in this description respecting the particular minerals and metals and the precious stone called the sapphire. But the exact signification of the Hebrew words render coral, crystal, onyx, ruby, topaz, and pearl, still much contested among the learned. The plural word peninim, there rendered " pearls," refers, according to Bruce, to that species called the red pearl, the pinnæ of the Greeks, and mentioned by Strabo Ælian, Theophrastus, and Pliny. Bruce also says that our translators have also erred in translating peninim by " rubies," in the end of the eighteenth verse, as the word always signifies " pearls."
The navy of Hiram (the Tyrian monarch) that brought gold from Ophir to King Solomon, conveyed also precious stones from the same place. Jewels were also purchased from the merchants of Sheba, or Saba, and Rumah, or Regma, countries in the south part of Arabia. The prophet Ezekiel, in his lamentations for Tyre, exclaims, The merchants of Sheba and Raamah occupied in thy fairs, with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones and gold."
Jewels were among the principal objects introduced into Egypt from Arabia and India. The mines of their own desert did, indeed, supply emeralds, and these were worked as early, at least, as the reign of Amunoth III., or 1425 years B.C., but many other stones must have come from India.
In ancient Egypt, when a case was brought up for trial, it was customary for the archjudge to put a gold chain round his neck, to which was attached a jewelled figure of Thmei, or truth. Jewels and gold were amongst the ornaments of the rich, consisting of ear-rings, armlets, bracelets, anklets, finger-rings, chains, plates for wearing on the breast, etc. Of such bijoutérie there are a considerable number of specimens in the British Museum, as there are also examples from Kouyunjik (Nineveh), of about 700 years B.C.; with necklaces and ear-rings from Babylon, of somewhat later date. A bracelet is inscribed with the name of Namrut (Nimrod), dating 500 years B.C.
The Egyptian and Assyrian jewellers were very expert. They could cut the hardest stones by some method unknown to us, and engrave and polish them.
In the days of Solomon, Palmyra the Superb, which owed its splendour to the opulence and public spirit of its merchants, was the emporium for gems and gold and luxuries of every kind.
The chief fame and historical interest of this city of the desert, are derived from the genius and heroism of Zenobia, whose dominions extended from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, but who fixed her residence at Palmyra in the third century. Her wealth was enormous, and in imitation of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, she affected great splendour in her style of living and attire, and drank her wine out of cups of gold, richly carved and adorned with gems. She was conquered and taken prisoner by the Emperor Aurelian, and the Queen of the East was con-ducted in triumph through Rome with all the costly spoils taken from her, as an Egyptian queen, Arsinoe, once before had appeared in the triumphal procession of the dictator Coesar. Zenobia walked in the procession before her own sumptuous chariot, attired in her diadem and royal robes blazing with jewels, her eyes fixed on the ground, and her delicate form drooping under the weight of her golden fetters, which were so heavy that two slaves were obliged to assist in supporting them on either side.
The precious stones of the ancient Persians were profusely employed in decoration. Over the royal bed of the kings was the golden vine, the work of Theodore of Samos, where the grapes were imitated by means of jewels, each of enormous value. At the interment of the royal rulers, were placed inside the tomb, together with the gold coffin, a number of objects, designed apparently for the king's use in the other world, such as rich cloaks and tunics, purple robes, collars of gold, ear-rings set with gems, etc. The sheaths and handles of the swords and daggers of the Persian nobles were generally of gold, and sometimes studded with gems. Among these the pearl held the first place. The person of an ancient King of Persia was adorned with golden ornaments. He had ear-rings of gold in his ears, often inlaid with jewels, he wore golden bracelets on his wrists, and he had a chain or collar of gold about his neck. In his girdle, which was also of gold, he carried a short sword, the sheath of which was formed of a single precious stone.
Seldom are toys and jewels mentioned by Homer, but with this additional circumstance, that they were either of Sidonian workmanship, or imported in a Phœnician ship. This exactly harmonizes with what is mentioned in Holy Writ respecting the superior skill of the Phœnicians in commerce and manufactures.
Precious stones and pearls were imported to Rome from Babylonia, and the Persian and Arabian Gulfs. Although the ancients were but imperfectly acquainted with the art of cutting diamonds, still that natural production held the highest rank among gems. The Indian diamonds came, probably, from Sumbhulpoor, in Orissa. Next in value was the emerald. Nero used one as an eye-glass for short sight. But though very large and splendid diamonds brought high prices at Rome, it is questionable whether they held the same rank as pearls. We have many instances of the exorbitant prices of pearls, but none, so far as is known, of diamonds. Pliny, it is true, in his last book of Natural History, says that the diamond holds the highest value among gems. But in his ninth book he gives the preference to the pearl. It is difficult to reconcile these two passages, yet he says, in his nineteenth book, that the asbestos, or incombustible cloth, equals in price the choicest pearls, where he is speaking of the exorbitant price of that species of cloth, which seems to imply that among gems, the pearl brought the best price. It is clear that they were in higher repute than diamonds, for they were eagerly purchased by persons of every rank, and worn on every part of the dress; and such is the difference both in size and value among pearls, that while such as were large and of superior lustre adorned the great and the wealthy, such as were smaller and of inferior lustre gratified the vanity of those in more humble circumstances. Servilia, the mother of the famous Brutus, received from Julius Caesar a pearl, as a present, which cost the donor £ 50,000. The famous pearls of Cleopatra, worn as ear-rings, were in value £161,457.
Precious stones, it is true, as well as pearls, were found not only in India, but in many other regions, and all were ransacked to gratify the vanity of the luxurious and ostentatious Romans. Though Pliny makes the excellence of pearls to consist in their whiteness, yet it is well known that those of a yellow hue are most esteemed in India at the present time, as the peninim, or red pearls, were in the days of Solomon.
Pliny says, " I have seen Lollia Paulina (once the wife of the Emperor Caligula), though it was on no great occasion, nor she in her full dress of ceremony, but at an ordinary wedding dinner—I have seen her entirely covered with emeralds and pearls strung alternately, glittering all over her head, hair, bandeau, necklaces and fingers, the value of all which put together amounted to the sum of forty millions of sesterces (L400,000), a value she was ready to attest by producing the receipts. Nor were these jewels the presents of a prodigal emperor; they were regular family heir-looms, that is to say, bought with the plunder of provinces. This was the end gained by his peculations -- this the object for which Lollius made himself infamous all over the East, by taking bribes from its princes, and, at last, poisoned himself, when C. Caesar, the adopted son of Augustus, formally renounced his friendship. All for this end, that his granddaughter might show herself off by lamplight bedizened to the value of forty millions of sesterces."
At the beginning of the third century, the extravagant luxury of the Romans was at its culminating point. An example was set by the monster Elagabalus, who styled himself "a priest of the sun." His apparel was costly in the extreme. He never wore a garment twice ; his shoes were decorated with pearls and diamonds ; his bed was covered with gold and purple, decorated with costly jewels. The path on which he walked was strewed with gold and silver powder, and all the vessels in his palace were of gold.
The splendour of the sun-worship at Emesa, under the name of the voluptuous emperor, was almost incredible ; the black-stone, which it was believed had fallen from heaven on the site of the temple, set in precious gems, was placed on a chariot drawn by six milk-white horses richly caparisoned. The emperor presided in his sacerdotal robes of silk and gold, after the loose flowing fashions of the Medes and Phoenicians, and crowned with a lofty tiara.
As an instance of the riches of Gaul at the commencement of the fifth century, we read in Gibbon that, in 412, Adolphus, the brother-in-law of Alaric the Goth, succeeded the latter on the throne of the Visigoths, and married Placidia, the daughter of Theodosius. The marriage was consummated before the Goths left Italy. The bride, attired and adorned like a Roman empress, was placed on a throne of state, and the King of the Goths, who assumed on that occasion the Roman habit, contented himself with a less honourable seat at her side. The nuptial gift which, according to the custom of his nation, was offered to Placidia, consisted of the rare and beautiful spoils of her country. Fifty beautiful youths in silken robes carried a basin in each hand, one being filled with pieces of gold, and the other with precious stones of inestimable value.
Many curious and costly ornaments of pure gold, enriched with jewels, were found in the palace of Narbonne, in Gaul, when it was pillaged in the sixth century by the Franks. There was the famous great dish for the service of the table, of massy gold, weighing five hundred pounds, and of far superior value from the precious stones, the exquisite workmanship, and the tradition that it had been presented by AEtius, the patrician, to Torismond, King of the Goths. One of the successors of Torismond, Sisenand, purchased the aid of the French monarch by the promise of this magnificent dish. When he was seated on the throne of Spain, A.D. 631, he delivered it with reluctance to the ambassadors of Dagobert, despoiled them of it on the road, stipulated, after a long negotiation, the in-adequate ransom of two hundred thousand pieces of gold, and preserved the missorium as the pride of the Gothic treasury. These pieces of gold were devoted by Dagobert to the foundation of the church of St. Denis.
When the Gothic treasury, after the conquest of Spain, was plundered by the Arabs, they admired another object still more remarkable—a table of considerable size, of one single piece of solid emerald, enriched with three rows of fine pearls, supported by three hundred and sixty-five feet of gems and massy gold, and estimated at the price of five hundred thousand pieces of gold. It was called the table of Solomon by the Orientals, who ascribed to that king every ancient work of knowledge and magnificence. It is believed that the stupendous pieces of what was called " emerald "—the statues and columns which antiquity has placed in Egypt, at Gades, and Constantinople—were, in reality, artificial compositions of coloured glass. The famous "emerald " dish at Genoa is supposed to countenance the supposition.
In regard to the Gothic treasures mentioned, the greater part were the fruits of war and rapine, the spoils of the empire, and, perhaps, of Rome.
The Anglo-Saxons appear to have been well acquainted with precious stones. In the MSS: Tib. A. 3 (British Museum) twelve sorts of them are thus de-scribed as mentioned in the Apocalypse :—" The first gemkind is black and green, which are both mingled together, and this is called giaspis ; the other is saphyrus, this is like the sun, and in it appear like golden stars ; the third is calcedonius, this is like a burning candle ; smaragdus is very green ; sardonyx is like blood ; onichinus is brown and yellow ; sardius is like clear blood ; barillus is like water ; crisoprassus is like a green leek, and green stars seem to shine from it ; topazius is like gold ; and carbunculus is like burning fire."
The crowns of the Anglo-Saxon kings are de-scribed by the contemporary biographer of Dunstan, as made of gold and silver, and set with various gems. Their gold rings contained precious stones, and even their garments, saddles and bridles were sometimes jewelled. Among other ornaments mentioned in Anglo-Saxon documents we read of a golden fly beautifully adorned with gems. Golden head-bands, half-circles of gold, neck-bands, and bracelets, are described in wills and inventories Amongst other female ornaments, we find earrings, golden vermiculated necklaces ornamented with precious stones.
Of Wilfrid, Bishop of York (died 709), it is said that he ordered the four Evangelists to be written of purest gold, on purple-coloured parchments, for the benefit of his soul, and he had a case made for them of gold adorned with precious stones.
Asser tells us that King Alfred sent rich presents to the inhabitants of the Indian peninsula, and received from them jewels of considerable value. The famous gold enamelled jewel of that monarch, in the Ashmolean Museum, is a fine example of the goldsmith's art at this period (871 to 901 A.D.). It was discovered in 1693 near Athelney Abbey, in a part of Somersetshire which had often been visited by Alfred, and to which he had retreated when worsted by the Danes in 878. It is formed of gold elaborately wrought in a peculiar kind of filagree, mixed with engraved and chased work. The legend round the edge of the jewel, " + Aelfred mee heht gevvrcau " (Aelfred ordered me to be wrought), is cut in bold characters, the intervening spaces being pierced, so that the crystal within is seen. The face is formed of a piece of rock-crystal, four-tenths of an inch in thickness, under which is placed the singular enamelled subject of which no satisfactory solution is given. It has been supposed to be a representation of the Saviour, St. Neot, St. Cuthbert, or Alfred himself. The workmanship is very curious ; the design was first traced out in filagree attached to a face of the plate of gold, the intervening spaces were then filled up with vitreous pastes of different colours, so that at first sight the work appears to resemble a mosaic, but there is little doubt that the colours were fixed upon the plates by fusion. The ground is of a rich blue, coloured, probably, by means of cobalt ; the face and arms are white, slightly shaded ; the portions which are represented in a woodcut as shaded diagonally, are of a pale translucent green, and those which are hatched with perpendicular lines are of a reddish brown, the vitreous pastes in this instance are semi-transparent, and of a crystalline crackly appearance, resembling some specimens of quartz.
A convex brooch of gold filagree, set with pearls, and a central enamelled ornament, precisely similar to Alfred's jewel in the mode of execution, was found in 1840 about nine feet beneath the surface of the ground in Thames Street, London.
In 926, Hugh-le-Grand sent a splendid legation to Athelstan with the request for the hand of his daughter, Eadhilda. They bore such treasures as England had not yet seen—the precious onyx vase, embossed by Grecian art, exciting the marvel of the beholders, who declared that the corn seemed waving, the tendrils growing, the figures instinct with life ; brilliant gems among which the emerald shone resplendent, etc.
King Athelstan, we are told, had received from his grandfather, King Alfred, amongst other rich presents, when a boy, a belt studded with diamonds, and a Saxon sword in a rich golden scabbard.
William of Malmesbury relates of the rich ornaments belonging to royalty, displayed in the ceremonies of the Saxon court, that the eyes of the ladies rested with pleasure upon the splendid jewels, especially on the emeralds, the greenness of which, when reflected upon by the sun, illumined the countenances of the bystanders with agreeable light.
The fibula, or brooches, of Anglo-Saxon work which have been discovered in graves, etc., are remarkable for their excellence and beauty. A splendid specimen of these ornaments was found in 1771, near the neck of a female skeleton in a grave on Kingston Down. The shell of this brooch is entirely of gold. The upper surface is divided into seven compartments, subdivided into cells of various forms. Those of the first and fifth are semicircles, with a peculiar graduated figure, somewhat resembling the steps, or base, of a cross, which also occurs in all the compartments, and in four circles, placed cross-wise with triangles. The cells within this step-like figure and the triangular are filled with turquoises, the remaining cells of the various compartments with garnets, laid upon gold-foil, except the sixth, which forms an umbo, and bosses in the circle, which are composed apparently of mother-of-pearl.
The arts of cutting and setting precious stones in crowns, rings, and other ornaments, were well known in Britain during the Norman period, for it does not seem probable that all the jewels (which appear to have been very numerous and valuable) in the possession of our kings, nobles, and prelates, at this period, were of foreign workmanship, though Henry III. (thirteenth century) was one of the most indigent monarchs that ever filled the throne of England, yet he had many curious and precious jewels which he was sometimes obliged to pawn. Among those which he pledged to the King of France in 1261, for five thousand marks, and redeemed in 1272, there were no less than three hundred and twenty-four gold rings, set with precious stones of various kinds.
The contemporary chronicles of Henry III. give glowing accounts of the festivities attending his marriage with Eleanor of Provence in 1236. The jewels and dresses which the youthful bride wore on this occasion were magnificent. Among the wedding presents given was one from her sister, the Queen of France. It was a large silver peacock, the train of which was set with pearls, sapphires, and other precious stones.
The Crusades had "a great influence on art and luxury by the introduction from the East of many precious objects. The Roman style of ornamenting jewellery gave way to the Gothic, showing all the richness borrowed from Saracenic art. The amount of precious stones, spoils of the Crusades, was enormous. The immense wealth amassed by King Tancred is stated by an old German historian, quoted by Scheidius, to have been almost fabulous. When after his death, the Emperor Henry entered the palace, he found the chairs and tables made of purest gold, besides one hundred and fifty mules' loads of gold, silver, and precious stones.
When Richard I. took Cyprus, among the treasures were large quantities of precious stones and golden cups, together with " sellis aureis frenis et calcaribus," showing the luxury of the Moslems.
In the thirteenth century the commerce of precious stones was almost exclusively in the hands of the Jews, but it was difficult to prevent fraud. A vast number of false jewels were manufactured in Europe, especially at Paris, where severe laws were made against such counterfeits. Among other regulations, " the jeweller was not to dye the amethyst, or other false stones, nor mount them in gold leaf nor other colour, nor mix them with rubies, emeralds, or other precious stones, excepting as a crystal simply without mounting or dyeing."
The workman was not to mount together Scottish pearls and those of the East. Except in works for the Church, he was not, even for trifling objects, to mingle coloured glass, or false, with precious stones, nor mount in gold and silver fraudulent gems, except for the king, the queen, and their children.
Matthew Paris describes the magnificent display of jewellery on the occasion of the wedding of Isabella, second daughter of King John, with the Emperor Frederic of Germany in 1235 :-" A crown was made for the princess, of the most cunning workmanship, of the purest and finest gold, adorned with precious stones. In rings and necklaces of gold, set with gems, in caskets and trappings, and other feminine ornaments, in copious treasury of gold and silver, ... which ravished the eyes of the beholder with delight."
This account of the chronicler is fully borne out by documentary evidence.
An extravagance for jewels is shown, during the fourteenth century, in the example of Isabella, queen of Edward II., who seems to have had a passionate weakness in this respect. The list of her jewels is given in one of the Cottonian MSS. in the British Museum. The total amount expended on these luxuries was no less than £ 1,399, equivalent to about £16,000 of our present currency. The more costly of these ornaments were purchased of Italian mer-chants. In a general entry of a payment of £421 are included items of a chaplet of gold, set with " bulays " (rubies), sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, and pearls, price L 05 ; divers pearls, £87 ; a crown of gold, set with sapphires, rubies of Alexandria, and pearls, price £80 ; etc.
Of jewels in the possession of females, we may instance those belonging to Alice Perrers, the favourite of Edward III. He had made her a present of those that belonged to his deceased queen, and upon the confiscation of her property, in 2 Richard II., according to an inedited document in the British Museum.
The value of a great proportion of these shows that they were chiefly used in " broidering." The Scotch pearl, according to the statutes of the Parisian goldsmiths, was unfit for setting with oriental pearls, except in great church jewels. Pearls were sold upon strings.
Richard II. was, perhaps, the greatest fop of his day. He had one coat estimated at 30,000 marks, the value of which must have arisen from the precious stones with which it was adorned.
About the middle of the fourteenth century, there was hardly a female, who could be styled a gentle-woman, that had not in her house some portion of the spoils of furniture, silk, plate, or jewels, from Caen, Calais, or the cities beyond the sea ; and those who, like the knight of Chaucer, had been at Alexandria " when it was won " by Peter, King of Cyprus, returned with great riches in cloth of gold, velvets, and precious stones.
In France, at this period, great luxury in dress prevailed ; gold and silver glittered on the garments, and precious stones became very costly, from the immense demand for them. The ladies, at this time, wore wreaths of flowers, or jewels, in their hair. Isabella, Queen of Charles VI., according to Brantome, brought to France a taste for pomp and sumptuousness that exceeded everything known in that country. The dresses of the ladies were resplendent with jewels, and those of the gentlemen fell little short. The latter wore a sort of jewelled cushion in their hair.
In the fifteenth century, the Dukes of Burgundy were conspicuous for their sumptuous state. The court of Philip the Good exceeded in riches that of any sovereign in Christendom. When this prince was in attendance on his liege lord, the King of France, the number and superb equipments of his retinue, threw royal state completely into the shade. He made his entrance into a town, preceded by musicians with trumpets, and other instruments of silver, and escorted by a numerous troop of cavaliers, and men-at-arms, whose horses were caparisoned with cloth of gold, studded with jewellery and precious stones. His palace was the scene of perpetual festivity, of sumptuous banquets, and gorgeous pageantries. He had accumulated treasures to an almost incredible amount in gold, silver, and precious stones, comprising images, crucifixes, reliquaries, plate of every description, gems of the largest size and purest water, and heaps of glittering coin.
Leo Von Rozinital, who in 1463--67, visited the different courts of Western Europe, was not only admitted to a view of Philip's treasures, but was requested, by the duke's order, to accept, as a present, any jewels which he might select; but the noble Bohemian declined to profit by this munificence on the ground that he had taken this journey, not for the purpose of acquiring riches, but in perfecting himself in chivalrous exercises.
Several inventories of the contents of the Burgundian treasury have been preserved. Two have been printed by the Count de Laborde, in his " Ducs de Bourgoyne."
Charles the Rash, the last Duke of Burgundy of his race, was also prodigal in the display of his enormous wealth, but, restless and unscrupulous, he made war on the Swiss, solely with a view to annex the country to his dominions, but received a crushing defeat at Nancy, where he met his death. Some of the spoils taken by the Swiss from his tent are mentioned, The outside of this was hung with armorial shields of gold and pearls. Inside was his golden throne, his ducal hat studded with the most precious jewels and pearls, his Order of the Golden Fleece, his seal, were all enriched with stones of the greatest rarity and splendour. The largest of the duke's jewels, equal in size to the half of a walnut, and the value of which he estimated at the price of an entire province, was picked up on the road by a Swiss, and sold for a florin. Pope Julius II. pur-chased it afterwards from the citizens of Berne for twenty thousand ducats, and it yet shines as the chief jewel in the papal crown. A second jewel of the duke, which was taken, is now in the French treasury, and a third is in the Imperial treasury at Vienna.
The body of the duke, crushed and disfigured, was recognized after the battle, by his ring, which bore a precious stone of great richness.
At the marriage of Jeanne de Navarre with the Duke de Vendôme, in 1548, she was attired in a robe of cloth of gold, laden with jewels—so heavy indeed that she was unable to walk under the weight, and the Connétable de Montmorenci was commanded by King Francis to take the princess in his arms and carry her to the chapel, much to the proud nobleman's disgust. So great was the display and profusion on this occasion, that (says Vauvilliers), the coronation ceremonies of the Emperor Charles V. cost consider-ably less than this pageant.
When, about twenty years later, she occupied, as Queen of Navarre, with her husband, Antoine de Navarre, the Castle of Pau, we are told of the enormous wealth in gold and jewels accumulated there. Jeanne's jewel chamber was stored with cups of agate and crystal, studded with gems, reliquaries, jewelled salt-cellars, vases of rock-crystal, mirrors set in frames adorned with diamonds, and curious rings and charms. The queen also possessed a great variety of gold and jewelled dishes, etc., for the banquet ; one piece is thus described,—" Item. A demoiselle of gold represented as riding upon a horse of mother-of-pearl, standing upon a platform of gold, enriched with ten rubies, six turquoises, and three fine pearls." The following description is given of an ornament belonging to the queen: " A fine rock-crystal, set in gold, enriched with three rubies, three emeralds, four pearls, and a large sapphire, set transparently ; the whole suspended from a small gold chain."
These valuable treasures were placed in coffers labelled with the name of a saint for a distinguishing mark ; one was called St. Marguerite, another St. John, etc. Jeanne writes, in 1572, to her son, from Blois, where King Charles kept his court, "the men here cover themselves with jewels ; the king has recently purchased gems to the amount of 100,000 crowns, and he buys many almost daily." In the will of this queen (who died in Paris, 1572), she bequeaths all her jewels to her daughter, Madame Catherine, absolutely, including her grand parure of emeralds. She excepts all her jewels in the hands of Queen Elizabeth, of England ; consisting of a rich carcanet of diamonds, and. a large balass ruby set in a ring, which she gives to her son as heirlooms of the crown of Navarre.
The jewels of an English lady in the sixteenth century are shown in an " Inventory of the Money and Jewels of Anne, Dutches of Somerset, taken after her Death, by the Queen's Order, by John Wolley, one of the Privy Council, and John Fortescue, Master of Her Majesty's Great Wardrobe. April 21st, 1587.
" A great chain of pearle and gold, enamelled with knots. A carkenet of gold and perles with knottes, with a pendant sapphire, with a fair perle annexed. A carkenet of perle and padlock of gold. A chain of fair perles, furnished with pipes of gold, enamelled with black. A plain chain of gold with small links. A pomander chain, with small beads of pomander and true-loves of perle, and many small perles to furnish the same, with pendants of mother-of-perle, and a little acorn appendant. A faucon of mother-of-perle, furnished with diamonds and rubies, standing upon a ragged staff of fair diamonds and rubies. A great jacinct, garnished with flowers of gold and perle, with a less jacinct on the back side, with a rough perle appendant. A tablet of gold of a story, furnished with diamonds and rubies, with, a perle appendant. An agate set in gold, and garnished with small perles, with a perle appendant. A pair of flaggon braslets of gold, plain, in each braslet a jacinct. A double rope of perle of one ell long. Twenty-eight small rubies unset. Three perles, whereof two pendant. A double rope of perle, of one yard three-quarters long. A chaine of perle of a bigger sort, of four double. A lily pot of gold, with a sea-water stone in the midst, with two perles pendant. Four fair emeralds set in collets of lead. A little tablet of gold, enamelled with gold, with a perle appendant. A pillar of gold, garnished with eight diamonds. Nineteen amethysts, whereof one great one. A fair jewel of gold, set with diamonds on both sides, bordered with small perle. A great tablet of gold, enamelled black and white, garnished, the one side with an agate and six rubies, and on the other side with twelve diamonds. A tablet of gold, curiously wrought, set with six fair diamonds and three fair perles, whereof one pendant. A table of gold, garnished round with small perle, with a great ballast in the midst, and a perle pendant. A fair square tablet of gold like an H, with four diamonds and a rock-ruby, or ballast, in the midst, garnished with perle, and a pearl pendant."
There are many other objects of gold and enamel enumerated, and coffers and bags containing large sums of money.
She is described as a " lofty lady," relict of the great Duke of Somerset. The substance of her last will dated July 14th, 1586, is contained in Strype, with the numerous legacies it contained, among which are costly jewels and rings.
In a curious characteristic letter of Lady Compton to her husband, apparently written (end of the sixteenth century) on the paternal wealth of the "rich Spencer," as he was called, we find among other items which she terms "reasonable" :—" I would have 6,000 to buy me jewels, and £4,000 to buy me a pearl chain."
" The goldsmith's shops in London," observes Fynes Moryson, the traveller (died 1614), " in England (being in divers streets, but especially that called Cheape-side), are exceedingly richly furnished continually with gold, and silver plate, and jewels. The goldsmith's shops upon the bridges of Florence and Paris have, perhaps, sometimes beene as richly or better furnished, for the time, on some nuptuall feast of the princes or like occasion, with plate and jewels borrowed of private persons for that purpose : but I may lawfully say, setting all love of my country apart, that I never see any such daily show, anything so sumptuous, in any place in the world, as in London."
Towards the close of the sixteenth century, the luxury in dress of the Swedish nobles was excessive. In the list of jewels left by Duke Magnus are enumerated 184 large diamonds, 461 emeralds, 46 rubies, 256 pearls, independent of mounted stones, buttons with pendant pearls, half-armed men and Turk's heads in monster pearls, rubies, and diamonds. The consumption of seed pearls was incalculable. These were procured from the Unio margarateferus of the Swedish rivers, and are still taken in considerable quantities.
At this period the courts of France and England seemed to rival each other in extravagant luxury. Bassompierre relates that for the ceremony of the baptism of the children of Henry IV. the king had a dress made which cost him fourteen thousand crowns. He paid six hundred crowns for the fashion only. It was composed of cloth of gold, embroidered with pearls.
It was towards the close of Elizabeth's reign that the celebrated Gabrielle d'Estrées wore, on a festive occasion, a dress of black satin, so ornamented with pearls and precious stones, that she could scarcely move under its weight. Such was the influence of her example in Paris, that the ladies even ornamented their shoes with jewels.
The reigns of the Georges were conspicuous for the lavish display of jewellery among the people of wealth and distinction of those periods. This we learn from the familiar letters of celebrated writers who frequented the courts of fashion, and who describe the "jewel mania" in many instances as extraordinary. Royal patrons were never found wanting.
Queen Caroline (consort of George II.) wore on the occasion of her coronation, not only the pearl necklace of Queen Anne, " but she had on her head and shoulders all the pearls and necklaces she could borrow from the ladies of quality at one end of the town, and on her petticoat all the diamonds she could hire of the Jews and jewellers at the other quarters. So " (adds Lord Hervey, from whom the details are taken), " the appearance and the truth of her finery was a mixture of magnificence and meanness, not unlike the éclat of royalty in many other particulars, when it comes to be nicely considered, and its source traced to what money hires and flattery lends."
At the marriage of the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg with George III., she was richly decorated with jewels. " The Queen," writes Horace Walpole, "was in white and silver. An endless mantle of violet-coloured velvet, lined with ermine, and attempted to be fastened on her shoulders by a bunch of huge pearls. On her head was a beautiful tiara of diamonds, worth three-score thousand pounds." Elsewhere, Walpole remarks, " Her stomacher was sumptuous."
At the coronation of George III., the Countess of Northampton carried 300,000 lbs worth of diamonds upon her ; and other ladies dropped rubies and other precious stones from their dresses in quantities sufficient to have made the fortune of any single finder.
At Queen Charlotte's Drawing-room, to receive congratulations upon the happy recovery of her consort (George III.), eye-witnesses declare that the blaze of diamonds which covered her Majesty was something more than the ordinary glory. Around the Queen's neck was a double row of gold chain supporting a medallion. Across her shoulders was another chain of pearls, in three rows ; but the portrait of the King was suspended from five rows of diamonds, fastened loose upon the dress behind, and streaming over the person with gorgeous effect. The tippet was of fine lace, fastened with the letter " G" in brilliants of immense value. In front of her Majesty's hair, in letters formed of diamonds, were easily legible the words, " God save the King."
The famous Esterhazy jewels which remained in that princely house for three-quarters of a century, were among the wonders of the age. It was at the end of the last century that Prince Nicholas Ester-hazy was present at the coronation of Francis II., as King of Hungary. He was then captain of a troop of twenty-four nobles and princes inferior to him in rank and fortune. It was on this occasion that the first uniform enriched with precious stones was worn. All the pieces of armour worn were covered with jewels. The effect of their splendour was remarkable, and Prince Esterhazy, in particular, became distinguished throughout Europe for the enormous extravagance of his costume. The same luxury was observed by Prince Paul Esterhazy, who died a few years ago, leaving debts to a very large amount. His estates were mortgaged, but his private property, particularly his jewels, were sold for the benefit of his creditors. These numbered upwards of fifty thousand brilliants, many of them of great value, and others consisted of emeralds, rubies, topazes, and fine pearls. Among the splendid ornaments was an aigrette of diamonds that Prince Nicholas wore on his hussar's cap, to replace the ordinary plumes. It was said to be the most beautiful that could be seen. The aigrette contained five thousand brilliants. Around the hussar's cap was a twisted loop in which were pearls and brilliants of immense value. A sword and sheath were covered with rare jewels. The belt was perhaps the richest decoration of the costume, covered with pearls and diamonds of large size and remarkable beauty.
Besides all this magnificence the prince possessed a splendid collection of objects adorned with precious stones, particularly six orders of the " Golden Fleece " of immense value, and also the orders of the " Bath " and " St. Andrew" in diamonds.
The famous Esterhazy jacket is said to have cost the prince a hundred pounds in wear and tear, each time it was put on.
In modern times nothing could exceed the splendour of jewel-decorations in the East, and the vast quantity of precious stones.
In 1786, after Tippoo Sultan had concluded an expensive war with the English, in his treasury were eighty millions sterling in jewels and costly objects.
At Moorshedabad, once an important town in the valley of the Ganges, and capital of the Mohammedan rajahs, stood the magnificent palace of Suraja Dowla, a monster whose name will ever be associated with the horrors of the Black Hole of Calcutta. It was in this palace that Clive stood amazed amidst the glittering heaps of gold, silver, diamonds, and other precious stones.
In 1800 a mission was sent to Persia under the command of Captain (afterwards Sir John) Malcolm, who describes the Shah's, Fetteh-Ali's, appearance in his hall of audience, " His dress baffles all description. The ground of his robes was white ; but he was so covered with jewels of an extraordinary size, and their splendour, from his being seated where the rays of the sun played upon them, was so dazzling, that it was impossible to distinguish the minute parts, which combined to give such amazing brilliancy to his whole figure."
Sir R. Kerr Porter, in his " Travels," alludes to the same monarch on a great ceremonial occasion. " He was one blaze of jewels, which literally dazzled the sight when first looking at. him ; but the details of the dress were these : a lofty tissue of three elevations was on his head, which shape seems to have been long peculiar to the crown of the great king. It was entirely composed of thickly set diamonds and pearls, rubies and emeralds, so exquisitely disposed, as to form a mixture of the most beautiful colours in the brilliant light reflected from its surface. Several black feathers, like the heron plumes, were intermixed with the resplendent aigrettes of this truly imperial diadem, whose bending points were finished with pear-shaped pearls of an immense size. The vesture was of gold tissue, nearly covered with a similar distribution of jewellery ; and, crossing the shoulders, were two strings of pearls, probably the largest in the world. I call his dress a vesture, because it sets close to his person, from the neck to the bottom of the waist, showing a shape as noble as his air. At that point it devolved downward in loose drapery, like the usual Persian garment, and was of the same costly materials with the vest. But for splendour, nothing could exceed the broad bracelet round his arms, and the belt that encircled his waist : they actually .blazed like fire, when the rays of the sun met them ; and when we know the names derived from such excessive lustre, we cannot be surprised at seeing such an effect. The jewelled band on the right arm was called, `the mountain of light,' and that on the left, ` the sea of light.' These names were, of course, derived from the celebrated diamonds contained in the bracelets."
Mr. St. John, consul to the last Dey of Algiers, describes a visit he paid to the treasury of this potentate, just before the taking of Algiers by the French, in 1830. The chamber was paved with stone, for no wooden floor could have borne the weight of the treasure. Golden coins—literally in millions—were lying heaped up like corn in a granary ; and several feet high in the walls, the plaster which had been wet when they had been shovelled in, retained, when dry, the impression of the coins. In this hall of Plutus were contained not only some hundred thou_ sands in gold and jewels, which the Dey took with him, but between two or three millions, which the French owned to receiving.
Among modern orientais, none had a greater love of jewels, and exhibited them more ostentatiously, than the famous Runjeet Singh. The " Lion of Lahore" is represented by the Hon. William Osborne, sitting cross-legged on a golden chair, dressed in simple white, which showed off to the best advantage a string of enormous pearls, of wonderful richness and beauty, round the waist, and the celebrated Koh-inoor on his arm. Rajah Soojet, one of his followers, wore a suit of the richest armour, a chelenk of rubies and diamonds on his forehead. His back, breast-plate, and gauntlets of steel, were richly embossed with gold and precious stones ; magnificent armlets of rubies and diamonds were on each arm, and his sabre and matchlock were highly jewelled.
The Hindoos, Bengalese, and Santhals, are immensely fond of jewellery. An English officer once weighed the ornaments worn by a Santhal belle : she had thirty-four pounds of bracelets, anklets, bangles, rings, and chains, about her person.
In Rousselet's " India, and its Native Princes," we find a description of the ex-Guicowar of Baroda. He was mounted on a superb elephant ; the howdah of massive gold, covered with jewels. He wore a red velvet tunic, over which was spread a profusion of magnificent jewels. His turban was adorned with an aigrette of diamonds, amongst which blazed the Star of the South.
" The royal treasury occupies several large rooms with thick walls and iron doors, guarded by numerous sentinels. It contains streams of diamonds, diadems, necklaces, costumes, and mantles, embroidered with pearls and precious stones of marvellous richness. Conspicuous among these jewels, whose value might be reckoned by hundreds of thousands, was a necklace which the rajah had recently had made, in which sparkled the famous Star of the South, the Star of Dresden, and other diamonds of remarkable size, probably the richest necklace in the world. There was a magnificent Hindoo costume. The coat, the pantaloons, and the scarf were of black silk, covered with delicate embroidery in pearls, rubies, and emeralds. The shoes, epaulettes, and turban, glittered with diamonds."
During the visit of the Prince of Wales to India the display of jewel decorations by the native princes was extraordinary.
Sir Jung Bahadoor is described thus in the Times (March 21st, 1876) :—" No gnome king in a gorgeous pantomime ever shone in the midst of electric magnesium light and blue fire, half so splendid as the Nepaulese Minister. His skull cap parsemé with pearls, is surrounded with a triple row of emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, with pendants of the same. From the aigrette representing the sun, above which is an enormous ruby, rises the double-eyed peacock feather. These two were sent to him from the Emperor of China, for he is a first-class mandarin of the Celestial Empire. The peacock's feather is, again, surmounted by a beautiful plume of bird of paradise feathers curved backwards. His tunic of purple satin, lined with the softest and finest fur, is embroidered exquisitely and set with pearls, and over his breast he wears the ribands of the Bath and of the Star of India. His sword is diamond-hilted, the sheath rich with jewels. Altogether a European monarch in all his glory would make but a very poor figure beside such a picturesque and very extraordinary display.
" His brother and son were only inferior in a small degree to Sir Jung Bahadoor, and were dressed in a similar manner.
" He has just walked back to his camp, and as the rays of the camp fire pursue him through the wood, seems to leave a trail behind him like that of a meteor."
The Hasné, or Imperial Treasury, of Constantinople contains a costly collection of ancient ARMOUR and coats-of-mail worn by the sultans. The most remarkable is that of Sultan Murad II., the conqueror of Bagdad. The head-piece of this suit is of gold and silver, almost covered with precious stones ; the diadem surrounding the turban is composed of three emeralds of the purest water, and large size, while the collar is formed of twenty-two large and magnificent diamonds.
In the same collection is a curious ornament in the shape of an elephant, of massive gold, standing on a pedestal formed of enormous pearls, placed side by side. There is also a table, thickly inlaid with oriental topazes, presented by the Empress Catherine of Russia, to the Vizier Baltadji Mustapha, together with a very remarkable collection of ancient costumes, trimmed with rare furs, and literally covered with precious stones. The divans , and cushions, formerly in the throne-room of the sultans, are gorgeous ; the stuff of which the cushions are made is pure tissue of gold, without any mixture of silk whatever, and is embroidered with pearls, weighing about 3600 drachmas. Children's cradles of solid gold, inlaid with precious stones ; vases of immense value in rock-crystal, gold and silver, encrusted with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds ; daggers, swords, and shields, beautifully wrought and richly jewelled, all tell a story of ancient grandeur and wealth, when the Ottoman power was a reality, and Western Europe trembled before the descendant of the son of Amurath.
Notwithstanding these jewelled riches 0f Turkey, however, they are surpassed by the splendour of the Shah of Persia's treasury, the contents of which have accumulated in successive periods.
Nadir Shah of Persia, in the first half of the eighteenth century, amassed enormous riches by the spoils of war. He is said to have had a tent made so magnificent and costly as to appear almost fabulous. The outside was covered with fine scarlet broadcloth, the lining was of violet-coloured satin, on which were representations of all the birds and beasts in the creation, with trees and flowers ; the whole made of pearls, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, amethysts, and other precious stones ; and the tent poles were decorated in like manner. On both sides of the pea-cock throne was a screen, on which were the figures of two angels in precious stones.
This splendid tent was displayed on all festivals in the public hall at Herat, during the remainder of Nadir Shah's reign.
Of a like character is the description of Antar's tent, from the Bedouin romance of that name, which, when spread out, occupied half the land of Shurebah, and there was an awning at the door of the pavilion, under which four thousand of the Absian horse could skirmish. It was embroidered with burnished gold, studded with precious stones and diamonds, interspersed with rubies and emeralds, set with rows of pearls.
It would be impossible to describe in these pages the splendour of the Persian treasury. One extra-ordinary object may be mentioned--a two-feet globe, covered with jewels, from the North Pole to the extremities of the tripod on which the gemmed sphere is placed. The story goes that his Majesty bought, or, more probably, accepted—at all events, was in possession of—a heap of jewels, for which he could find no immediate purpose. Nothing could add to the lustre of his crown of diamonds, which is sur-mounted by the largest ruby to be seen. He had the " Sea of Light," a diamond in size but little inferior to the British " Mountain of Light." He had coats embroidered with diamonds and emeralds, rubies, pearls, and garnets ; he had jewelled swords and daggers without number ; so, possibly, because he had his royal mind turned towards travel, he ordered the globe to be constructed, covered with gems ; the overspreading sea to be of emeralds, and the kingdoms of the world to be distinguished by jewels of different colour. The Englishman notes with pride that England flashes in diamonds.