In July 2001, I won a competition to design a pair of crowns in medieval style. The crowns were made later that year and have been in use ever since, within the SCA Kingdom of Lochac.
My inspiration for the overall look was based on several 15th century crowns, both extant and in art. Similar crowns are seen in many western European countries at this time, and the style continued into the 16th century.
Crowns at this time had a variable number of points, often of alternating design. These images also show a typical pattern for the band – a mounted jewel followed by a pair of pearls. The top and base of the band are decorated with a string of pearls between ridges, as can be seen in Duchess Margaret’s crown.
I also wanted to incorporate some specific design elements into the crowns – a cross (common medieval element), oak leaves and roses, and the heraldic colours of blue, red and silver/white.
My design was for a crown with 8 points, alternating crosses and leaves/rose, mounted on a band with alternating bezel-set jewels and pearls, with a band of pearls (or silver half beads) above and below. The proposed materials were silver, pearls, blue lapis lazuli or sodalite, and red garnets or carnelians.
I considered some practicalities – the crowns would be worn by many people, so they needed to adjustable. I planned a series of padded rolls which could be attached to the inside of the crowns to vary the size and cushion the weight.
The crowns were given to a commercial jeweller to manufacture. Some of their construction decisions make me suspect they approached the job as being a display piece, rather than something that would actually see a lot of wear! The immediate problem was that the crowns were made round rather than the oval I had specified, which has made them challenging to wear (this has since been improved).
The crowns have seen a lot of use and have needed a great deal of maintenance over the years, and a lot of travelling – important requirements to consider for future designs!