Famous Jewels and their History

Ref: C2224966

A detailed outline of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom will be given, considering separately the jewels of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and how certain stones (and associated artefacts) have become iconic, and have played a part both in the unity and division of the United Kingdom. To show how ownership of the stones has often been a matter of dispute, either between dynasties, or between State property and private, personal property; and to cover the history of certain famous jewels in their respective countries, especially those of Russia, the House of Savoy in Italy, Portugal, the House of Habsburg, Sweden and Denmark.

Course aim

1. To give an overall view of the stones themselves 2. To consider the importance attached to the cutting of the jewels 3. To estimate the significance of design, and 4. To give, where possible, their provenance

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • It is useful if there is a prior history in history, and perhaps law, for the issue of national and international icons, which jewels often are. This is a good background, but not necessary.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Recognize some famous iconic jewels and know something of their history and importance
  • Discover the importance of cutting and design
  • Identify the origin of the stones, and their ownership, i.e. which country or mine or sea they have come from
  • Assess the importance of royal and aristocratic jewels in the context of status of the owners, and the display of splendour

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • The Day Class is aimed to give, in a relatively short time, a real taste of the subject and the issues involved, by showing many pictures in Power Point presentations and the display of books and illustrations which will accompany them.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • A Day Class is very much enhanced by the members of the class sharing their own experiences, and perhaps their own collections of jewels, or their memories of others.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • The tutor will provide some hand outs on the stones as stones, i.e. the origin and composition of various jewels, precious and semi-precious. The class is encouraged to bring the basics of notebook and pen, or pencil, and a sketchbook if wished.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • The tutor will bring a selection of books on the subject. Information of other relevant books and publications will be available also.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Members of the class will be encouraged to visit Jewellery and other exhibitions, information as to these will be provided, and some may wish to join the Society of Jewellery Historians, or to take a course in design.

Download full Course information sheet

Famous Jewels and their History


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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