In the early medieval period only the wealthy could afford to wear jewellery as it was made mainly from gold and silver, but as time passed and trade improved other cheaper alternatives were available including copper and pewter.
During this period men often wore as much jewellery as women.
Much of the jewellery worn then is the same as today including:
Necklaces and Collars
Bracelets and Brooches
Other jewellery made to adorn clothing included:
Gold was afforded only by the wealthy, with silver used by the middle classes, and copper and pewter by the lower classes. In the early period much jewellery was engraved with patterns, but over time it was set with jewels.
Many precious and semi-precious stones were used. These included:
Sapphires: The most sought after stones in the early Middle Ages.
Rubies: The most sought after stone in the middle period.
Diamonds: The most sought after stone in the later middle ages.
Mother of Pearl
Cheaper fake stones were available to the poor.
Everything in the middle ages was used to show off a person’s social standing. Jewellery was no exception. The more highly polished and larger the stone, the more it had cost; therefore this showed the wealth of the person wearing it.
Some gems were believed to have special powers and knights would wear these stones, as they believed they would give them protection in battle.