Much like clothing, jewelry in the Medieval Ages portrayed status and wealth. Initially, only the wealthy could afford fine ornaments. However, as trade and commerce grew in the continent, the European middle class began to afford them. By the 14th century, wearing jewelry had become common. The elite started to wear fancier stuff to distinguish themselves from the middle class who promptly caught up and upped their game. This led to jewelry becoming more lavish. As there were no state-of-the-art cutting techniques in that time, jewelry was duller and less vibrant than today. However, they were still very valuable.
Brooches: Brooches were small and dull. They become more decorative over time and most of the designs were inspired by nature and religion. In the 13th century, brooches were circles of gold, with a pin in the center. The 14th century saw many hear-shaped brooches. Hat brooches became popular in the 15th century, complete with jewels and pearls.
Belt/Girdles: Girdles were often fashioned of silk or leather and decorated with silver, gold and other jewels. During the 14th century, girdles gave way to hip belts crafted of metal and worn around the hips. These belts could carry more weight and thus were decorated with more jewels. Men could wear these belts and attach their swords to them. They were thick and would make the hips appear wider than they were.
Crowns/Coronets: Crowns were exclusive to nobility and royalty and were made from the most precious metals. Coronets were smaller and plainer and were fashioned of thin gold bands or jewels linked together. These circlets were first seen around lords’ helmets. The female populace soon began to wear them over their veils. During the 14th century, much larger coronets came into fashion.
Necklaces/Rings: Necklaces became popular in the 14th century. They were initially made of fabric or ribbon and decorated with jewels, but by the next century it was common to see metal chains and pendants. Rings were a sign of marriage and high birth. Unlike aforementioned jewelry, rings were the only items to decrease in size over time. By the 14th century, they were simply bands of gold or silver. The heavier signet rings were worn on the thumb. During the 15th century, it was common to see women with rings which were more delicate than the ones worn by their male counterparts.