The jewels which Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839-1898) collected were part of his ambition to create a room full of precious objets d'art in the tradition ofthe Renaissance courts of Europe. Ferdinand collected jewels all through his life, a number of them inherited from his father, Anselm.
The collection was remarkable for the way it reflected the achievements of goldsmiths of the early Renaissance and Baroque period who worked in ways described by Benvenuto Cellini. They used gemstones of many colours but also enamelling, using several techniques, to create polychrome jewels.
Above all there are many examples of heavy sculptural pendants which were a distinctive feature of the second half of the 16th century, especially in Germany. The collection also includes three lockets, especially the Lyte Jewel designed to contain a miniature of King James I painted by the court-limner, Nicholas Hilliard.
The collection was bequeathed to the British Museum, where it is known as The Waddesdon Bequest. On the 11 June, The Waddesdon Bequest opened in new galleries at The British Museum.