Pearl Bracelet

Shown at Holiday Faire, Barony of Stierbach, November 2007

This bracelet is a reproduction late Elizabethan bracelet made from freshwater pearls.


Source Material for Illumination & Calligraphy
The source for this bracelet are the bracelets shown on the wrists of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1590 portrait owned by Jesus College at Oxford. This portrait is found on page XVIII in Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d by Janet Arnold.

– dyed freshwater pearls
– silk beading thread

A Brief Discussion
The bracelet could be made from agate, jasper or pearls, all of which were in period at the time. Pearls are a ubiquitous item found in 16th-century portraits. Agate and jasper are referenced in “A Middle English Lapidary” edited by Arne Zettersten. I chose to make the bracelet from freshwater pearls because when strung, they reproduced the look of the bracelets shown in the portrait.

Though a modern bracelet like this would be created with a clasp, I saw no clasps on bracelets shown in portrait. It is entirely possible that Queen Elizabeth simply looped a necklace-length strand of pearls around each wrist. Therefore, I strung the pearls on a silk cord which can be wrapped around the wearer’s wrist.

1. Arne Zettersten (ed.): A Middle English lapidary. Lund 1968.

2. Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d. Manny: 1988.

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