A treasure that was uncovered 100 years ago by a workman is going to now be on display for the first time next fall in the Museum of London. The entire chest called the Cheapside Hoard which includes hundreds of gold and gem studded Tudor and Jacobean jewellery. There are many questions and possible murder mystery tales surrounding this jewellery which makes its value more than just its weight in gold. It also can tell us about the life during this time in London a period from between 1558 to 1625. Some questions that arise are whose jewels were these? Why was it hidden? Why hasn’t it ever been claimed?
It was first discovered in 1912 when it was buried in a cellar on Cheapside in the City of London. A workman’s pickaxe smashed through the brick floor more than a century ago and it was left forgotten. When an old house was being demolished on Cheapside the hoard was found and remains priceless.
“Nothing in the world comes close,” said Museum of London curator Hazel Forsyth. He has been studying the pieces for a long time now. Some of the jewelry includes necklaces, rings, brooches, chains, pearls, rubies, fan holders, scent bottles and two carved gems dating back 1,300 years ago. The most delicate of items are fine gold enamel chains with gems on them up to two meters long they were stitched on gowns and hung from collar to waist as a dazzling display. “This collection has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, dismissed as jewelry for the merchant classes,” Forsyth said. “But at this date the merchants were among the wealthiest people in the land; they had far more disposable wealth than the aristocracy.” Along with the massive rubies, and pearls the size of acorns there are sapphires, emeralds and some fake stones made of quartz crystal which have been dyed and carved to look like precious gems.
New research of a specific gem known as “The Stafford Intaglio”, an oval shaped piece of engraved cornelian, suggest the time it was buried between 1640 and 1666. The engraved piece is a badge of Stafford with a swan and a wreath, there was only one Viscount Stafford by the name of William Howard in 1640.
Two other pieces from the Cheapside Hoard is a salamander shaped brooch set with Colombian emeralds and table cut diamonds from India. The other is a gold enamel ring set with moonstone and engraved with a frog.
Another extremely rare piece is a hexagonal emerald watch, one of the most unusual and decadent pieces found, one of a kind no other in its era had ever been recorded.
All these jewels will be displayed together they are the single most important knowledge of early modern jewelry worldwide.