October 2013 saw the opening of one of The Museum of London’s most exquisite exhibitions. Time is running out though, as this wonderful display of the world’s finest collection of Elizabethan and early Stuart period jewellery, known as The Cheapside Hoard ends in April 2014. F&L Designer Guides say that this has been an excellent opportunity to gain some insight into the inspiration behind many of the bespoke engagement ring masterpieces created by the UK’s finest independent designers.
The Cheapside Hoard was found under a cellar floor in London’s Cheapside and had been buried over 100 years ago, says curator Hazel Forsyth. Ms Forsyth claims that, as far as it is possible, the exhibition hopes to uncover the personal tales and stories of the jeweller, smuggler, and patron or thief of the time. It is likely that the Hoard was buried during the Civil war period and the stunning pieces found have given historians and jewellers alike a better understanding about the processes, techniques and designs used at the time.
F&L Designer Guides discovered that certain features of the exhibition itself were the result of the collaboration between The Birmingham School of Jewellery, the jewellery industry and Innovation Centre. These groups came together to create 3D models of some of the pieces showcased in the display, and these 3D renditions really bring the jewellery to life for the viewer while presenting the pieces in a way that maximizes their attributes and features.
Ms Forsyth has explained that this new technology has allowed historians to get a much better idea of how the jewellery found in the hoard was made. With the use of digital photography, laser scans, CAD and 3D printing, the pieces have been taken apart digitally and rebuilt to create replica models. Some of the pieces found were not in very good condition and, for example, a pendant that was missing most of its pearls was recreated into a series of wax models, base metal and more recently 18ct gold. They are even currently attempting to source some pearls so that the pendant can be appreciated in all its original glory. By displaying the pieces suspended on fishing line they actually move slightly capturing the light in a way they would have done when worn during their hay day. Some of the jewellery pieces are even available for the public to try on, and with this level of interaction the pieces are really brought to life.
The Cheapside Hoard exhibition is an excellent display of the beauty and exquisite craftsmanship synonymous with the decadence and opulence that was celebrated during this period of history. F&L Designer Guides can see why many of its featured designers have been so inspired and excited by these unique pieces. The historical value and modern day influence that this treasure trove combines has immeasurable value in the jewellery world today.
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