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Normandy Rouen crosses

Rouen cross, gold and strass, France

Rouen cross, gold and strass, France

Crosses were the most distinctive piece of jewelry in Europe. Normandy Rouen crosses were more often made of gilt metal, sometimes gold, depending on their buyers income. Whatever the material was, the manufacture of them was not simple. They were richly decorated with symbolic religious or floral motifs, with imitating diamonds glass or local rock crystal. Beautiful and massive Rouen crosses could be up to 10cm in length. The way the crosses were worn in France is different from other Catholic countries. They hang on a black velvet ribbon, along with a heart shaped coulant. The ribbon was fastened round the neck like a choker, with the ends tied at the back in a bow, the coulant was separated by some centimeters from the cross.

Rouen cross

Rouen cross

Crosses Saint-Lo (croix de Saint Lô) were worn not only in Saint-Lo, but throughout Normandy. Usually made of silver and decorated with rhinestones or more old – quartz granite mine of Alençon. The name comes from the place where they were originally made, and does not mean that the cross itself was made precisely in Saint-Lo.

Rouen cross

Rouen cross

Gold crosses “bosse” were made from the 1750s to the 1820s. Crosses were made by stamping, usually decorated with filigree. The functional significance of the pendant is large – it adjusted the height at which the cross was worn.

Crosses “Drille” or “croix de pierres” were often called “quadrilles” especially in the vicinity of the town of Saint-Lo. Name is due to the process of their manufacture. Metal mold is pressed onto a piece of cuttlefish bone, thus imprint is obtained. Resulting is blackened with candle flame to protect it and to smooth out minor irregularities remaining from the bone structure.

Two such blanks are joined together, and in the resulting molten capacity metal is poured. Cross polished and leveled with a tool “Drille”. Then fasten small metal cones, and when everything is almost ready, quartz crystals or rhinestones are inserted.

Guests of Rouen from 1820 to 1890 were quite surprised to see a huge cross Rouen (croix de Rouen), unique to Normandy. Made from slightly convex sheets of gold, carved, they were covered with many rhinestones, sometimes diamonds. Notice how the shape of these crosses gradually becoming more stylized. The point is that Rouen crosses become so stylized, that it is quite difficult to see the cross itself in this graceful form.

Normandy Rouen crosses

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