Catherine Parr inspired necklace

So, I was watching a BBC four documentary on the education of Margaret More, and this portrait of Catherine Parr came up.

 For some reason I had never noticed her necklace before, and I liked it, because I do like chokers and I could do with a bit more bling on my Tudor dress, so I got thinking.

If you look really really closely at the portrait you can tell the artist has fudged the depiction a little because some of the lower string, zig-zaggy pearls appear to be anchored right into the middle of some of the larger round pearls on the top string, and even if you could do that, why would you want to?

Anyway, I had this pendant. It’s not my best work, if I’m honest(well, if I’m completely honest its a bit of crap, but its a shiny bit of crap and I don’t have time to make a new bit of crap) – it was thrown together very quickly, and to my eternal shame of all the hundreds of stones I’ve set over the years this is the one piece where a stone fell out. I put it down to the fact that I don’t ever really use facets so I haven’t had much practice. Anyway, the big blue topaz fell out one day, but luckily I found it – or rather a sharp-eyed nine year old found it for me.

So I put it to one side, meaning to repair it, then lost the stone. Can’t replace it cos I got it for a few quid and normally big topazes like that are a bit pricey.

Then I found it again, just last week – Yay!

Just to be on the safe side I cheated and epoxied it in before re-setting it. This seemed a sensible option since there is obviously something wrong with the bezel (I also made a better interior support for the stone, so I did re-set it properly as well as cheating).

It’s not identical to Ms Parr’s pendant, but it will do. I used to simply wear it pinned to my bodice, btw, and I think its based on a Holbien engraving, but I made it so long ago I can’t remember. It’s gold plated silver set with blue topaz, amethyst and yellow beryl.

I’ve had two goes at the necklace. I used thick silk for the first attempt, and it snapped the first time I tried it on. There was much swearing. Many bad words. So much for using an authentic stringing medium!

So I ordered some nylon thread and used that.

 I used three different types of real pearl, as well as some little glass pearl beads. I used the glass beads at the intersections of the threads because the holes in real pearls are so tiny it’s hard to get two threads through at once.

I could have done this without any visual breaks in the top string by knotting the bottom string onto it between the pearls, but I couldn’t quite rig up a way to hold the top string under tension whilst I did so – it would be interesting to do another copy of this piece and compare the finished look.

It looks tiny, doesn’t it? It has to fit quite snugly around my neck to get the choker effect.


What was that? You want to see a picture of it being modelled? No problem!

 Helpful Brannycat to the rescue!


~ by opusanglicanum on January 14, 2012.

19 Responses to “Catherine Parr inspired necklace”

  1. Very nice. If Branston is going to model the necklace, he should model the whole outfit so we can see how it looks in situ.

  2. He says he looks silly in a dress though

  3. It’s delightful – well done!

  4. If it fits Brannycat, it’s too small for me. :=(

  5. What a wonderful idea! I must confess I am not big on jewelry or baubles but I would gladly wear your white beaded choker (without the jewel piece). Very beautifully done.

  6. It’s very pretty. If you do make another, I would suggest using the silk again and tying a pearl knot between each of the large pearls. My sister works for a pearl company and tells me that this is better for the pearls and for the drape of the necklace than stringing them without knots.

    • i had terrible trouble with the silk though, because it would only just go through the holes so I couldn’t use a needle – which amde it all the more annoying when it snapped. It more likely my make another will simple be a case of re stringing this one whenit eventually wears

  7. That’s one very tolerant cat.
    I have a very tolerant cat too, who looooves being photographed. I *swear* he strikes a pose when he sees the camera aimed at him. I really swear.

    I have heaps and heaps of vintage jewellery – I’m a real jewellery girl. Perhaps I should bedeck him and take a photo…..

    PS – Nice necklace!!!

    • he isn’t really tolerant – he was just half asleep.

      if you did he would decide that was the day he didn’t want to be a star and bugger off under the bed with all your treasures. cats are right gits that way

  8. Oh, aren’t they just!

  9. Wow! Your work is wonderful! I love this necklace and think it looks so good on Brannycat that he should perhaps keep it. I wish I could say I used my (late) cate to model a historic design necklace. What I actually did was dress him in a baby vest, and his sister was so spooked that she went for him and he had to be airlifted to a place of security in another room where he was gently de-robed by my husband on the understanding that I never do such a thing again! Your stitching is much more successful than mine too, and the silverwork gallery is gorgeous.

  10. Sorry, that’s CAT, not CATE.

    • poor kitty! they get that way after the vet soemtimes when the smell of anesthetic masks thier scent

      branny isn’t allowed to keep the shinies cos he’s a proper boycat so his favourite hobby is breaking stuff – there would be pearls everywhere

  11. I’ll have to send you a picture of my bead embroidery inspired by an elizabethan book binding! Inspiring/1

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