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May 12, 2015

Are you familiar with The Cheapside Hoard?


In 1912, workmen digging in a cellar in Cheapside, London, excavated a cache of 16th and early 17th century jewels.  The haul, housed in an antique wood chest, included almost 500 pieces of antiquities - rings, brooches, chains with gemstones and gold settings, cameos, perfume bottles, fan holders, crystal tankards and a salt cellar.

Labeled The Cheapside Hoard, the event represents the largest single discovery of Elizabethan and Jacobean international luxury goods in the last 350 years.  The find includes gemstones from South America, Asia and Euorpe, emeralds from Colombia, topaz and amazonite from Brazil, diamonds from India, Burmese rubies, Afghan lapis lazuli, Persian turquoise, peridots from the Red Sea and Hungarian garnets and amethysts.

Intricate watch set in carved emerald

Elizabeth I cameo

An intriguing aspect of the lucky find was that no 'treasure trove' inquest was held at the time of discovery.  The workmen were allowed to sell their windfall to George Lawrence, a procurer of antiquities for the London Museum.

Cabochon Emerald ring

Moonstone 'frog' ring

Emerald 'grapes' pendant

Ruby and diamond bow pendant

Reliquary locket

Quartz cat's eye carved monkey

Pearl cage pendant

Sapphire and spinel pendant

Salamander brooch studded with Colombian
emeralds and Indian diamonds

Diamond ring

Gold, diamond and emerald cross

Ruby and diamond cross

Amethyst pin

Cloisonne emerald cross

An exhibition of the artifacts was staged in 1914.  Following that initial showing most of the pieces in 'the hoard' were a fixture at the London Museum until WWII.  During the War the treasures were stored and not displayed for almost 100 years.  To celebrate the centennial of the discovery the museum staged The Cheapside Hoard Exhibition between October, 2013, and April, 2014.

Makes you want to buy a pickaxe and start excavating, doesn't it?


  1. What a beautiful collection, and a fascinating story! Thank you for sharing.

  2. What an amazing find...there are some beautiful pieces there.

  3. Beautiful discovery.

    cheers, parsnip

  4. What a haul, some beautiful pieces.