Elizabethan Jewelry Rivals 21st Century Craftsmanship
July 23, 2013

Elizabethan Jewelry Rivals 21st Century Craftsmanship

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Birmingham City University researchers say Elizabethan craftsmen developed advanced manufacturing methods that could rival 21st century technology.

Scientists analyzed the world's largest collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewelry from 400 years ago that was discovered in London in 1912. The historic find includes a Ferlite watch that dates back to the 1600s, which the group says is so technologically advanced, that it is like the "iPod of its day."

The researchers used modern technology to discover how these jewelry items were constructed. They said that after their analyses, they were stunned at the advanced technologies that have been applied to create the items.

"Our forensic analysis has revealed the amazing technologies which craftsman of this period were using - and we fear some of these 400-year-old processes may now be lost to us," said Dr. Ann-Marie Carey, a research fellow at Birmingham City University. "It has been a fascinating investigation. We think of our own time as one of impressive technological advances but we must look at the Elizabethan and Jacobean age as being just as advanced in some ways."

The experts combined their own background in creating with CAD technology to investigate the collection of jewelry in an attempt to discover what kind of manufacturing methods would have been used to create the items, which includes brooches, pendants and delicate gemstone rings.

"When we received photographs of the Hoard we were fascinated with the level of detail in the jewelry," Carey said. "We wanted to know how such pieces were made and to understand the story behind them. Until now there had been little research into the craftsmanship involved so we feel we are making a unique contribution to the forthcoming exhibition."

The team used 21st century digital technologies to recreate pieces from the Hoard, including one egg-shaped item that originally featured ribbons of pearls known as the "Pearl Dropper." The items of the Hoard are set to be displayed at a major exhibition at the Museum of London this coming fall. The jewelry, which will be going on display from October 11, 2013 through April 27, 2014, will include a bronze version of the Pearl Dropper, as well as augmented reality versions of other items.

"This will create tangible items which will ideal for visually-impaired visitors who will be handle items directly," added Dr. Carey.