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Jewelry and Accessories

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Jewelry and Accessories

Shakespeare for Kids

After John de Critz. Queen Elizabeth I. Oil on panel, after 1620.

Many portraits of Shakespeare's queen, Elizabeth I, show her with gorgeous jewelry. Earrings, necklaces, brooches, and rings were popular accessories. The queen wore pearls in her hair, in bracelets on her wrists, and in earrings. Other rare gemstones like emeralds, rubies, and diamonds were also used. Her clothing included threads made from gold and silver; the young queen's coronation dress was made from a precious fabric known as "cloth of gold," made by creating fine gold threads and weaving them into fabric.


Most people could not afford gemstones or cloth of gold. However, jewelry was still worn by ordinary people. "Poesy rings," simple rings with expressions of love or friendship written on them, were given as engagement rings or as gifts between friends. The words were often on the inside of the band to make the message more private. Surviving portraits show stylish young men with gold or pearl earrings.


Other accessories for fashion-conscious Elizabethans included gloves, purses, and fans.  Women might carry a small metal container called a pomander filled with flowers, herbs, or perfume to make the air around them smell good. Many men carried weapons such as swords, rapiers, or daggers.  





George Gower. The "Sieve" portrait of Elizabeth I. Oil on panel, 1579.

Anne of Denmark. Miniature on vellum, ca. 1620?

James I. Miniature on vellum, ca.1620?

Nicholas Hilliard. Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester. Miniature on vellum, ca. 1590-95

Did you know?

Miniature portraits were sometimes worn on necklaces or chains by wealthy Elizabethans.

Learn More

Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I

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