Day School: Famous Jewels and their history

Ref: C2226064

The course will begin with the United Kingdom, and the jewels separately of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. European jewels will then considered, including the extant kingdoms of Scandinavia and the Netherlands and Flanders, Spain and the principalities and grand duchy remaining. The most famous stones will be the subject of analysis, such as the Koh-I-Noor, the Cullinan Diamond, the Black Prince's Ruby, the Cambridge emeralds and the Hanoverian pearls. Some jewels have a dark history: this will be explored. The lecturer was for many years a member of the Society of Jewellery Historians and has had articles published here and in the USA. His recent book has a chapter entitled "The Jewels of the Kingdom", which will be also considered, in the light of whether these jewels can be left by will, given away or "alienated".

Course aim

Famous Jewels and their place in history is self-descriptive; but the questions remain, Which Jewels? and What was their place in history? In quest of these answers, their origin, provenance, history and design will be considered.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • This is a course for which it is hoped there might be a wide appeal, not just to those interested in jewels as artefacts or possessions, but to those interested in how those artefacts can, and have, affected the course of history

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

  • Describe the history attached to these stones, and why they have been important, and why they are still important.
  • Explain why some states and dynasties are prepared to go to great lengths to retrieve or retain these stones, even after a long absence, for example the Coronation Stone, or the Stone of Scone, returned to Scotland after 700 years
  • Explain that the value does not depend just on commercial value, but value by provenance and association
  • Compare one iconic stone with another, and estimate the value to each nation or dynasty
  • Describe how these stones are an integral part of a country or dynasty's history and their value follows

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
  • For a day course it may be useful to bring notebook and possibly a sketch pad. Bringing personal artefacts in to show other class members, eg. iconic jewels or hereditary jewels within your own family, would be brilliant.

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
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • The tutor will be pleased to offer suggestions and every encouragement

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • As above, please bring the materials you consider suitable

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
  • Any personal anecdotes or contributions will be welcome

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Membership of the Society of Jewellery Historians may be considered

Download full course information sheet

Day School: Famous Jewels and their history

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This course has been cancelled.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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