Museum of London and BCU investigate how jewels were made.
The famous Cheapside Hoard – the world’s largest collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewellery discovered in a London cellar in 1912 – is undergoing a detailed "exhibiting investigation" to discover more about how the jewellery was made.
The project is being run by the Museum of London, where selected items from the Hoard are on display, with the help of the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) and Birmingham City University’s Institute of Art and Design (BIAD).
A team of researchers are using CAD technology to investigate the Hoard in an attempt to discover what kind of manufacturing methods could have been used to create the jewellery, which includes brooches, pendants and delicate gemstone rings.
Dr Ann-Marie Carey, a research fellow at JIIC and BIAD, said: “When we received photographs of the Cheapside Hoard, we were fascinated with the level of detail in the jewellery. We started to ask ourselves how such pieces were made and to understand the story behind them. Until now, there had been little research into the craftsmanship involved.”
Carey joined forces with Hazel Forsyth, the senior curator of the Medieval and Post-Medieval Collections at the Museum of London, and Keith Adcock, senior CAD CAM technologist at JIIC and BIAD, spending several days at the museum collecting photographs and digital scans of the items for analysis.
Some items had suffered deterioration over the years and needed to be visually reconstructed before the team could determine how the pieces were created, using a range of techniques from utilising photographs to help recreate objects in CAD, to laser scanning the pieces, or a combination of the two.
Keith Adcock said: “Laser scanners do not work well with shiny objects such as gem stones, glassware and polished gold. For us to accurately scan the Ferlite watch we would have had to chip out the enamel and spray it white, which obviously we weren’t going to do. Nonetheless we scanned the dial of the watch but it needed CAD interpretation and enhancement.”
The team has been using ArtCAM JewelSmith software to help reconstruct some of the more badly damaged items, including a gilt brass watch signed G Ferlite. The software was used to enhance the detailed surface of the watch, before a final render was made using ArtCAM. The design was then bought to life using a a 3D printer.
A Museum of London statement said of the exhibit: "Through new research and state-of-the-art technology, the exhibition will showcase the wealth of insights the Hoard offers on Elizabethan and Jacobean London – as a centre of craftsmanship and conspicuous consumption, at the crossroads of the Old and New Worlds.
"It will also explore the mysteries that remain, lost among the cataclysmic events of the mid-17th century: who owned the Hoard, when and why was it hidden, and why was it never reclaimed."
The exhibition will open in October this year.