The Middle Ages mark the period of European history between the 5th century and the 15th century. It follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. The 16th century is the beginning of what is known as the Early Modern Era.
During the Middle ages, the majority of Europe adopted Christianity. At that time, monks were required to learn trades in order to support themselves financially. Jewelry craftsmanship was the trade of choice for many. Consequently, the world’s jewelry was produced largely by Christian monks during this period. Jewelry symbolism changed remarkably at this time, moving toward the prevalence of designs expressing the Christian faith.
The first independent jewelry guilds were created then. They implemented best practice methods and quality inspections. At the same time, the booming population resulted in higher demand and increasingly sophisticated methods of fabrication and designs. However, precious metals and stones were reserved to the wealthy.
It is interesting to note that uniques styles and fabrication methods remained central to the art of jewelry making in Celtic cultures long after Christianity began to spread in Europe. Christian influence had yet to reach further west.
To be continued…