The toadstone, also known as bufonite (from Latin bufo , "toad"), is a mythical stone or gem that was thought to be found in the head of a toad. It was supposed to be an antidote to poison and in this it is like batrachite, supposedly formed in the heads of frogs. Toadstones were actually the button-like fossilised teeth of Scheenstia (previously Lepidotes ), an extinct genus of ray-finned fish from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. They appeared to be "stones that are perfect in form" and were set by European jewellers into magical rings and amulets from Medieval times until the 18th century.
From ancient times people associated the fossils with jewels that were set inside the heads of toads. The toad has poison glands in its skin, so it was naturally assumed that they carried their own antidote and that this took the form of a magical stone. They were first recorded by Pliny the Elder in the first century.
According to Paul Taylor of the London Natural History Museum:
Like tonguestones, toadstones were considered to be antidotes for poison and were also used in the treatment of epilepsy". As early as the 14th century, people began to adorn jewelry with toadstones for their magical abilities. In their folklore, a toadstone was required to be removed from an old toad while the creature was still alive, and as instructed by the 17th century naturalist Edward Topsell, could be done by setting the toad on a piece of red cloth.
The true toadstone was taken by contemporary jewellers to be no bigger than the nail of a hand and they varied in colour from a whitish brown through green to black, depending on where they were buried.They were supposedly most effective against poison when worn against the skin, on which occasion they were thought to heat up, sweat and change colour. If a person were bitten by a venomous creature a toadstone would be touched against the affected part to effect a cure. Alternatively Johannes de Cuba, in his book Gart der Gesundheit of 1485, claimed that toadstone would help with kidney disease and earthly happiness.
Loose toadstones were discovered among other gemstones in the Elizabethan Cheapside Hoard and there are surviving toadstone rings in the Ashmolean Museum and the British Museum.
The toadstone is alluded to by Duke Senior in Shakespeare's As You Like It (1599), in Act 2, Scene 1, lines 12 to 14:
Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
In James Branch Cabell's short story "Balthazar's Daughter" (collected in The Certain Hour) and its subsequent play adaptation The Jewel Merchants, Alessandro de Medici attempts to seduce Graciosa by listing various precious jewels in his possession, including "jewels cut from the brain of a toad".
Some toadstones were used in jewelry, including on a crown held at Aachen Cathedral used to coronate Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor.
Jewellery consists of decorative items worn for personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and cufflinks. Jewellery may be attached to the body or the clothes. From a western perspective, the term is restricted to durable ornaments, excluding flowers for example. For many centuries metal such as gold often combined with gemstones, has been the normal material for jewellery, but other materials such as glass, shells and other plant materials may be used.
A tiara is a jeweled head ornament. Its origins date back to ancient Greece and Rome. In the late 18th century, the tiara came into fashion in Europe as a prestigious piece of jewelry to be worn by women at formal occasions. The basic shape of the modern tiara is a (semi-)circle, usually made of silver, gold or platinum, and richly decorated with precious stones, pearls or cameos.
A pendant is a loose-hanging piece of jewellery, generally attached by a small loop to a necklace, which may be known as a "pendant necklace". A pendant earring is an earring with a piece hanging down. Its name stems from the Latin word pendere and Old French word pendr, both of which translate to "to hang down". In modern French, pendant is the gerund form of pendre and also means "during". The extent to which the design of a pendant can be incorporated into an overall necklace makes it not always accurate to treat them as separate items.
A necklace is an article of jewellery that is worn around the neck. Necklaces may have been one of the earliest types of adornment worn by humans. They often serve ceremonial, religious, magical, or funerary purposes and are also used as symbols of wealth and status, given that they are commonly made of precious metals and stones.
The common toad, European toad, or in Anglophone parts of Europe, simply the toad, is a frog found throughout most of Europe, in the western part of North Asia, and in a small portion of Northwest Africa. It is one of a group of closely related animals that are descended from a common ancestral line of toads and which form a species complex. The toad is an inconspicuous animal as it usually lies hidden during the day. It becomes active at dusk and spends the night hunting for the invertebrates on which it feeds. It moves with a slow, ungainly walk or short jumps, and has greyish-brown skin covered with wart-like lumps.
The French Crown Jewels and Regalia comprise the crowns, orb, sceptres, diadems and jewels that were symbols of Royal power between 752 and 1825. These were worn by many Kings and Queens of France as well as Emperor Napoleon. The set was finally broken up, with most of it sold off in 1885 by the Third Republic. The surviving French Crown Jewels, principally a set of historic crowns, diadems and parures, are mainly on display in the Galerie d'Apollon of the Louvre, France's premier museum and former royal palace, together with the Regent Diamond, the Sancy Diamond and the 105-carat (21.0 g) Côte-de-Bretagne red spinel, carved into the form of a dragon. In addition, some gemstones and jewels are on display in the Treasury vault of the Mineralogy gallery in the National Museum of Natural History.
The Crown of Louis XV is the sole surviving crown from the French ancien regime among the French Crown Jewels.
The Imperial Crown of Brazil, also known as the Crown of Dom Pedro II or as the Diamantine Crown, is the Crown manufactured for the second Brazilian Emperor, Pedro II.
Art jewelry is one of the names given to jewelry created by studio craftspeople. As the name suggests, art jewelry emphasizes creative expression and design, and is characterized by the use of a variety of materials, often commonplace or of low economic value. In this sense, it forms a counterbalance to the use of "precious materials" in conventional or fine jewelry, where the value of the object is tied to the value of the materials from which it is made. Art jewelry is related to studio craft in other media such as glass, wood, plastics and clay; it shares beliefs and values, education and training, circumstances of production, and networks of distribution and publicity with the wider field of studio craft. Art jewelry also has links to fine art and design.
Rundell & Bridge were a London firm of jewellers and goldsmiths formed by Philip Rundell (1746–1827) and John Bridge.
In European bestiaries and legends, a basilisk is a legendary reptile reputed to be a serpent king, who causes death to those who look into its eyes. According to the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, the basilisk of Cyrene is a small snake, "being not more than twelve inches in length", that is so venomous, it leaves a wide trail of deadly venom in its wake, and its gaze is likewise lethal.
Scheenstia is an extinct genus of neopterygian ray-finned fish from the Late Jurassic–Early Cretaceous of Europe. Fossils have been found in both marine and freshwater environments.
The Middle Ages was a period that spanned approximately 1000 years and is normally restricted to Europe and the Byzantine Empire. The material remains we have from that time, including jewelry, can vary greatly depending on the place and time of their creation, especially as Christianity discouraged the burial of jewellery as grave goods, except for royalty and important clerics, who were often buried in their best clothes and wearing jewels. The main material used for jewellery design in antiquity and leading into the Middle Ages was gold. Many different techniques were used to create working surfaces and add decoration to those surfaces to produce the jewellery, including soldering, plating and gilding, repoussé, chasing, inlay, enamelling, filigree and granulation, stamping, striking and casting. Major stylistic phases include barbarian, Byzantine, Carolingian and Ottonian, Viking, and the Late Middle Ages, when Western European styles became relatively similar.
Suzanne Belperron (1900–1983), born in Saint-Claude, France, was an influential 20th-century jewellery designer based in Paris. She worked for the Boivin and Herz jewellery houses before the outbreak of World War II. Subsequently, she took over the Herz company, renaming it Herz-Belperron. Belperron had many important clients, including royalty, arts and show business on both sides of the Atlantic.
A lapidary is a text in verse or prose, often a whole book, that describes the physical properties and virtues of precious and semi-precious stones, that is to say, a work on gemology. It was frequently used as a medical textbook since it also comprises practical information about each stone's medical application. Several lapidaries also provide information about countries or regions where some rocks were thought to originate, and others speculate about the natural forces in control of their formation.
Tamil people have historically been connoisseurs of fine golden jewellery, which has a history predating the Sangam period in the Indian subcontinent. Ancient Tamil literature lists out the different types of jewellery worn by women historically from head to toe. Apart from gold, jewellery was also fashioned out of silver, copper and brass.
A stomacher - sometimes called a devant de corsage - is a piece of jewellery worn on the centre panel of the bodice of a dress, which is itself also called a stomacher. In the 18th and 19th century, stomachers became large, eye-catching pieces of jewellery to be worn with formal court robes or ball gowns. Like the tiara, it was a jewel pre-eminently suited to expressing social status.
The Three Brothers was a piece of jewellery created in the late 14th century, which consisted of three rectangular red spinels arranged around a central diamond. The jewel is known for having been owned by a number of important historical figures. After its commission by Duke John the Fearless of Burgundy, the jewel was part of the Burgundian crown jewels for almost 100 years, before passing into the possession of German banker Jakob Fugger.
Jeanne Poiret Boivin (1871-1959) was a French businesswoman and designer who headed the House of Boivin jewelry firm from 1917 until her death in 1959.
Khmer jewellery originated in the Khmer Empire. Khmer jewellery has been produced since the 6th or 7th century. Jayavarman VII, while he was an influential figure who established the different trends in Khmer jewellery, is famously represented without any at all in the seated position. The amount of jewellery acquired in Cambodia traditionally established a person's identity and status. Khmer jewellery consists of a diverse variety of styles and fashions. These styles can be categorised into three distinct groups: royal jewellery, wedding jewellery and the jewellery for the Cambodian Royal Ballet.