Cheap thrills

Gold hat ornament set with six foiled rose-cut amethysts and seven diamonds.
The reverse is enameled in black and white.
Pendant cross, gold, set with foiled and trap-cut spinels bordered by table-cut diamonds and cabochon emeralds
Gold hairpin set with turquoise
Pendants, hair ornaments, etc. as modelled by Elizabeth I
The Cheapside Hoard contains over thirty necklaces of various lengths.  
The hoard was particularly fascinating because typically objects of gold and gemstones were sent by their owners to be reworked periodically, even when not damaged by wear. As a result, extremely few pieces of common, non-royal jewelry survived in the original state into the 19th and 20th centuries.
Two flower shaped rings in the Spanish fashion, one with seven cabochon emeralds, the other enameled and set with garnets. Two gold rings set with sapphire. Center, gold ring set with a large table-cut diamond in a white champlevé enameled gold setting.
Gold pendant or hat ornament, with foiled flat and fancy-cut amethysts,
enameled on reverse.
Gold pendant in the form of a bow set with fancy-cut and trap-cut foil-backed rubies and table-cut diamonds. Called a 'flower' in Elizabethan times, it was often attached by a ribbon to the left breast.
Below it, a hat ornament in the form of a salamander with cabochon emeralds and diamonds,
many of which are missing. The tongue is also missing.
These images are just a few items from a cache of approximately 500 pieces of jewelry and loose gems at the Museum of London known, rather inelegantly, as the Cheapside Hoard. “Cheapside", both a street and a district in London, originates from the word "chepe" (or "cepe," or "cheop") meaning 'barter' or 'market.' Beginning in the 11th century, the area was known for its food market as well as for shops of various trades. Goldsmith's Row (near Poultry street, Iron Lane, etc) ran between Bread Street and Friday Street and was the center of the gold and gem trade.

Long after the jewelers left and the area changed, on June 18, 1912, workmen started demolition at 30-32 Cheapside, a derelict tenement 300 years old or more. Workers got down to the cellar and when they broke through the floor they unearthed what has been called the finest collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewelry in the world. They'd found the house stock of a jeweler, buried under the floorboards since the early 1600s.

Evidently it was common, until 1970 or so, that laborers would come across all sorts of archaeological finds across the city—which they would then bring to a certain dealer
to make a few easy pounds. Journalist Henry Vollam Morton described the tradition in the 1920s:
"I cannot count the times I have been present when navvies have appeared and passed their treasures across the counter with a husky, “Any good to yer, guv’nor?” I have seen handkerchiefs unknotted to reveal Roman pins, mirrors, coins, leather, pottery and every kind of object that can lie concealed in old and storied soil. I was with him one day when two navvies handed over a heavy mass of clay found beneath a building in Cheapside. It was like an iron football, and they said there was a lot more of it. Sticking in the clay were bright gleams of gold. When they had gone, we went up to the bathroom and turned the water on to the clay. Out fell pearl earrings and pendants and all kinds of crumpled jewellery. That was how the famous hoard of Tudor jewellery, the Cheapside Hoard, was discovered."
The 'Vauxhall pastes' (faceted glass paste gems whose flat backs were mirrored)–
the cabochon, bezeled and table-cut garnets, emeralds, turquoise, diamonds, sapphires–
the 30 or more chains of delicate knots, scrolls and foliate links, tiny details picked out in colored enamel–
the gold rings and salamander hat ornaments–
sat buried in the cellar while the plague passed through and the Great Fire of 1666 raged (above),
while America was found, then lost,
and Victoria came and went...
And now you can see them.

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