The Role of Jewelry in Complementing Renaissance Dresses

November 10, 2023 4 min read

Closeup on medieval queen in red dress with handkerchief

If you’re a history buff this isn’t going to come as news to you, but for the uninitiated, Renaissance fashion wasn’t just about the clothes. In fact, one of the most crucial yet often overlooked components in Renaissance clothing was jewelry, and this is something that many cosplayers or Ren faire attendees often forget when putting together their ensembles.

So, what do you need to know about the Renaissance and jewelry? Let’s take a look.

Jewelry and Renaissance Fashion

During the Renaissance, jewelry was much more than a mere accessory; diamonds and pearls were worn as a symbol of wealth, status, and personal taste. Crafted from precious metals and gemstones, jewelry was most commonly seen on the wealthy and aristocratic classes, with pearls, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires being very popular.

Today, the essence of Renaissance jewelry remains visible through certain trendy jewelry styles; pieces like layered necklaces and pearl chokers, or large-set gemstones and eye-catching statement pieces can be seen on the necks, fingers, and wrists of both celebrities and us normal folk alike. In short, the only difference between Renaissance jewelry and the jewelry of today is the accessibility; what was once a prized family heirloom can now be found - at least in replica - on the modern high street at an affordable price.

So, whether you’re attending a Renaissance festival or simply looking to infuse a bit of historical elegance into daily wear, Renaissance-style jewelry offers a timeless charm. How to integrate these pieces into a contemporary Renaissance look, however, requires a blend of historical knowledge and modern sensibility.

How to Add Jewelry to a Renaissance Look

Unique retro necklace


So, if you’re already shopping for Renaissance dresses for women and want to know how to complete the look for ultimate authenticity, here’s what to do:


First up is necklaces: Renaissance necklaces were often bold and ornate, featuring large gemstones and intricate, layered designs. What’s great about a statement necklace is that it pairs perfectly with a Renaissance-style corset, so make sure to consider the neckline of your dress when choosing a necklace. A higher necked gown might pair well with a choker-style piece (so long as it isn’t obscured by fabric), while a lower neckline offers the perfect canvas for a longer, more elaborate necklace. Remember, balance is key; a statement necklace can be the focal point of your outfit, so keep other jewelry pieces more subdued.


Earrings in the Renaissance were typically long and dangling, often designed to match the necklace - but you don't necessarily need to mix and match! When selecting earrings, what’s more important is to consider your hairstyle and the amount of detail in your dress’s bodice. Intricate hairstyles or heavily adorned dresses might call for simpler earrings, whereas simpler styles can be elevated with more ornate earrings. Don’t forget comfort; corsets might already be somewhat of a tax on your comfort, so heavy-set earrings might not be the best idea if you’re cosplaying for the first time.

Bracelets and Armlets

If you’re wearing a short sleeved Renaissance dress, bracelets and armlets can be a great way to add more dimension to your overall look. Bracelets and armlets were incredibly popular during the Renaissance, and were often worn as a pair. You could jazz up your outfit with simple gold bands or more elaborate designs with gemstones, just make sure that your sleeves are short enough that any gemstones or metals won’t snag on the fabrics and tear them.

Hair Accessories

Finally, we can’t forget hair accessories! From tiaras to hairpins, hair accessories were an essential part of Renaissance fashion, both when it came to aesthetics and holding up the hair in elaborate up-dos. Depending on the style of your dress, consider adding pearl-studded piss, jeweled headbands, or even a circlet for a regal look.


How do I choose the right jewelry for my Renaissance dress?

It’s simple, really; you just need to consider the color, neckline, and level of detail in your dress. Choose jewelry that complements these elements without overwhelming your look, and you can have fun with historical accuracy if you’re attending a Renaissance festival.

Can modern jewelry be used for a Renaissance look?

Absolutely. While historical accuracy is appreciated, modern interpretations can also work well. Look for pieces that echo the style of the era, such as gemstone-studded items or filigree designs - you can find these almost anywhere.

Are there any rules for mixing metals in Renaissance jewelry?

During the Renaissance, mixing metals wasn’t particularly common. However, in a modern context, feel free to mix metals if it suits your style and the look you’re going for - the rule is, there are no rules!

Ultimately, the right jewelry can significantly enhance the elegance and authenticity of Renaissance dresses. Whether you are dressing for one of the largest Renaissance festivals or incorporating Renaissance elements into your everyday style, thoughtful selection and styling of jewelry can transport you back to an era of unparalleled elegance and grandeur.