There is one archeological find that surpasses all others if one has an interest in Elizabethan/Jacobean jewelry. It’s the Cheapside Hoard, a treasure hoard consisting of almost 500 pieces found in the Cheapside area of London in the beginning of the last century. The hoard is amazing with a fantastic range of jewelry and precious objects. One theory is that it is part of a goldsmith’s stock that for some unknown reason was hidden in the beginning of the 17th century and then never was retrieved. It makes sense as the Cheapside area had been known for it’s goldsmiths for several hundred years at that time. I will not go in to more details about the hoard, but I can recommend you to go out and look for information and photos of the items if you have an interest. The story about how the hoard was found is also a very good one, and I will recommend one little book the tells the story very well: “The Cheapside Hoard” by Hazel Forsyth. It’s a tiny little book published by Museum of London, but it’s full of yummie pictures and interesting facts.
Now, one of my favourite parts of the Hoard are a couple of grape pendants and I have for long time thought I’d like to try to make one myself. A couple of weeks back I found the inspiration and dug out the green glass grape bunches I’d bought many years ago for this very purpose. Now, up until just today I had only seen pictures of the grape bunches with amethyst coloured grapes in photos from the find, but Hazel Forsyth says this in her book: “The range of pendant forms includes clusters of faceted stones, multiple bunches of carved ‘black’ amethyst or ‘white’ emerald grapes suspended from gold vine branches…” So I went ahead and used my green grapes, I’m much more fond of white wine anyway. The original bunches are made from gold wire, I used a copper based craft wire instead and as it can’t be soldered, I decided to use wire wrapping technique, and also decided to add some curly vines both to give the pendant a little of my own design and to make the wire wrapping look more natural.
I have alway wondered why the bunches had three “branches” and not four but now that I have the finished piece it makes complete sense. No matter how the grape bunch hangs against your body, if you have it suspended from a silk cord hanging against your bodice for instance, it will always hang with one “branch” pointing away from you, and there will always be a few grape bunches that dangle freely. Four branches would tangel more easily.
Now, I might sell this grape bunch in my Etsy shop, but I’m not sure, it’s a very delicate thing and will easily bend and lose it’s shape. The originals did too, and this is another reason why the Cheapside Hoard is so important. Very little jewelry of this kind remains, it was so fragile and broke so easily, that very little survived their original owners. So, if anyone want to buy this lovely, it will have to be treated with special care…