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London’s Lost Jewels

London’s Lost Jewels

The Cheapside Hoard is a must-see for jewellery lovers and historians. The collection comprises the world’s largest cache of Elizabethan and early Stuart jewellery including rings, brooches and earrings in bright coloured gemstones and enamelled gold settings. Sponsored by Faberge, Gemfields and Coutts, the sparkling display is described by Carol Woolton, jewellery editor at Vogue, as “the most important thing that’s happened in jewellery for generations”.

Known as ‘London’s Lost Jewels’, the precious pieces were unearthed in 1912 from under a cellar by workmen on Cheapside in London. Having lain hidden in a wooden box for 300 years, they survived some of the greatest dramas of our history including the reign of Elizabeth I, the English Civil War and the Great Fire of London in 1666. Now over a century since their discovery, they are displayed in all their splendour at The Museum of London.

Cheapside Hoard © Museum of London

The collection includes a variety of pieces, from elegant ruby earrings worn singly or in pairs which were threaded through the ear with knitted chord, to beautiful pearl necklaces and diamond encrusted gold buttons. The pièce de résistance has to be the exquisite hexagonal emerald time-piece seen below. One of the most striking pieces found, it is made from Columbian emerald crystals of exceptional quality, boasting a translucent green enamel dial with a magic all of its own.

Emerald watch © Museum of London

The display provides fascinating insight into the development of the jewellery industry in London at the crossroads of the Old and New Worlds, with growing Royal appetite for exquisite jewels set against burgeoning worldwide trade in precious gemstones. The only mystery that remains is the provenance of these beauteous trinkets – lost among the cataclysmic events of the 17th century, it is still unclear who owned the hoard, when and why was it hidden, and why was it never reclaimed. Its enigmatic history is a rare feast for the 21st century mind.

Museum of London

Open to the public until 27 April 2014

Adult: £9; Concession/child aged 12+: £7

Flexible family tickets from £22.50