The V&A has one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of jewellery in the world. Over 3,000 jewels tell the story of jewellery in Europe from ancient times to the present day; from a great gold Celtic breastplate to medieval love rings and pendants given by Elizabeth I to her courtiers; from jewels by Cartier to animals by Fabergé; and jewellery by an international selection of contemporary makers.
Jewellery at the V&A
Historic highlights include jewelled pendants given by Queen Elizabeth I to her courtiers, and diamonds worn by Catherine the Great of Russia. The age of Napoleon is represented by the famous Beauharnais Emeralds, the gift of Napoleon to his adopted daughter, and by tiaras and ornaments worn by the Empress Josephine.
Video: Making a Diamond Ring
After 20 years in the jewellery industry, Shaun Leane launched his first diamond collection in 2005. This film follows him as he prepares a ring for his new collection, following each step, from cutting the gemstone to creating the gold settings and putting it all together.
Video: Enamelling a Brooch
Enamelling may have enjoyed its greatest popularity in the Art Nouveau period, but the craft dates back to the sixth century BC. Brighton-based silversmith Jane Short was drawn to enamels when she was studying at the Royal College of Art. This film follows Short as she uses silver and ground glass to make a brooch.
Gold Choker & Earrings, by Niphon Yodkranpan, 2003
These outstanding examples of modern Thai goldwork were created by two senior master craftsmen and tutors at the Royal College of Goldsmiths in Bangkok. The jewellery is based on a 15th century find that was recovered in 1957 from Wat Rachaburana, a temple within the ruined city of Ayuttaya.
Sword from 1790s Presented to Francis Douglas
This sword was given to Francis Douglas as a reward for his distinguished service in supressing a mutiny amongst sailors at the Nore, a Royal Navy anchorage in the Themes Estuary, 1797. From around 1640, light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades appeared in response to new fencing techniques that emphasised thrusting at speed. They were worn increasingly with civilian clothes as 'small swords', offering a means of self-defence but largely denoting status for the well-dressed gentleman.
Fashion in Motion: Swarovski: Runway Rocks
The Swarovski Fashion in Motion live catwalk event took place on November 26 2004. The V&A celebrated Swarovski's collaboration with the world of fashion with a series of stunning catwalk shows, presenting a unique collection of spectacular specially-commissioned jewels for the catwalk.
Poems about the V&A: 'The Wearer' by Colette Bryce
In 2002 the V&A and the Poetry Book Society commissioned five poets to create new works inspired by the British Galleries 1500-1900. The poets were invited to come and explore the galleries at their leisure and select which object might take their fancy. Colette Bryce's poem was inspired by Charles Robert Ashbee necklace.
Development of the William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery, 2008
In 2008, the V&A's jewellery gallery reopened after complete renovation made possible by a substantial donation from Mr and Mrs William Bollinger. An endowment was provided by Mr and Mrs Bollinger to maintain the gallery to the highest standard.
The Metalwork collection contains over 45,000 examples of decorative metalwork, silver and jewellery ranging in date from the Bronze Age to the present day. It includes the national collection of English silver, an outstandingly comprehensive jewellery gallery, and collections of ironwork, continental silver, arms and armour, medieval champlevé and late 19th-century enamels, brasswork, pewter and medieval metalwork of international importance.