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The Middle Ages was a period that spanned approximately 1000 years and is normally restricted to Europe and the Byzantine Empire. The material remains we have from that time, including jewelry, can vary greatly depending on the place and time of their creation, especially as Christianity discouraged the burial of jewellery as grave goods, except for royalty and important clerics, who were often buried in their best clothes and wearing jewels. The main material used for jewellery design in antiquity and leading into the Middle Ages was gold. Many different techniques were used to create working surfaces and add decoration to those surfaces to produce the jewellery, including soldering, plating and gilding, repoussé, chasing, inlay, enamelling, filigree and granulation, stamping, striking an

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  • The Middle Ages was a period that spanned approximately 1000 years and is normally restricted to Europe and the Byzantine Empire. The material remains we have from that time, including jewelry, can vary greatly depending on the place and time of their creation, especially as Christianity discouraged the burial of jewellery as grave goods, except for royalty and important clerics, who were often buried in their best clothes and wearing jewels. The main material used for jewellery design in antiquity and leading into the Middle Ages was gold. Many different techniques were used to create working surfaces and add decoration to those surfaces to produce the jewellery, including soldering, plating and gilding, repoussé, chasing, inlay, enamelling, filigree and granulation, stamping, striking and casting. Major stylistic phases include barbarian, Byzantine, Carolingian and Ottonian, Viking, and the Late Middle Ages, when Western European styles became relatively similar. Most styles and techniques used in jewellery for personal adornment, the main subject of this article, were also used in pieces of decorated metalwork, which was the most prestigious form of art through most of this period; these were often much larger. Most surviving examples are religious objects such as reliquaries, church plate such as chalices and other pieces, crosses like the Cross of Lothair and treasure bindings for books. However this is largely an accident of survival, as the church has proved much better at preserving its treasures than secular or civic elites, and at the time there may well have been as many secular objects made in the same styles. For example, the Royal Gold Cup, a secular cup though decorated with religious imagery, is one of a handful of survivals of the huge collections of metalwork joyaux ("jewels") owned by the Valois dynasty who ruled France in the late Middle Ages. In addition to basic forms of personal jewellery such as rings, necklaces, bracelets, and brooches that remain in use today, medieval jewellery often includes a range of other forms less often found in modern jewellery, such as fittings and fasteners for clothes including, buckles, "points" for the end of laces, and buttons by the end of the period, as well as hat badges, decorations for belts, weapons, purses and other accessories, and decorated pins, mostly for holding hairstyles and head-dresses in place. Neck chains carried a variety of pendants, from crosses (the most common) to lockets and elaborate pieces with gems. Thin "fillets" or strips of flexible gold sheet, often decorated, were probably mostly sewn into hair or headresses. Arm-rings ("armillae") and sometimes ankle-rings were also sometimes worn, and sometimes (for the very rich) many small of pieces of jewellery were sewn into the cloth of garments forming patterns. Jewellery was a very important marker of social status, and most prosperous women probably wore some conspicuous pieces all the time, or at least whenever outside the home. Men were often at least equally highly adorned, and high-status children of both sexes often wore jewellery as formal wear. (en)
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  • The Middle Ages was a period that spanned approximately 1000 years and is normally restricted to Europe and the Byzantine Empire. The material remains we have from that time, including jewelry, can vary greatly depending on the place and time of their creation, especially as Christianity discouraged the burial of jewellery as grave goods, except for royalty and important clerics, who were often buried in their best clothes and wearing jewels. The main material used for jewellery design in antiquity and leading into the Middle Ages was gold. Many different techniques were used to create working surfaces and add decoration to those surfaces to produce the jewellery, including soldering, plating and gilding, repoussé, chasing, inlay, enamelling, filigree and granulation, stamping, striking an (en)
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  • Medieval jewelry (en)
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