Bejewelled: Striking Design

Freemasons call their badges 'jewels'. In this exhibit we explain what a jewel is and how it's made.

Badge of achievement (1980)Museum of Freemasonry

We all wear badges

What does it mean to wear a medal or a badge? A badge can carry a message intended for everybody, or only for those already in the know. Do they help define our identity, or do they proclaim it? Why would you wear a badge?

Portrait of Prosonno Coomar Dutt (1900) by F. Kapp & CoMuseum of Freemasonry

Symbols of identity

Freemasons are proud to wear badges they call ‘jewels’. Jewels are symbols of a freemason’s membership of a lodge (a small group of freemasons), their individual rank, role and achievements within freemasonry.

Symbols of identity

Some are beautiful and made of precious materials while others are more like the badges we have all worn at one time or another.

Early jewels

The first jewels were typically made from sheets of silver, cut and engraved. Makers included jewellers, but also other people like the clockmaker John Barraclough who were skilled at fine craft.

French prisoner-of-war jewel (1803/1815)Museum of Freemasonry

Personal craft

Early jewel designs combined symbolism from the ceremonies freemasons perform at their meetings. Makers had freedom to design.

Personal craft

In prisoner-of-war camps during the Napoleonic War (1803-1815) French freemasons created elaborate jewels based on the symbols of their ceremonies.

Personal craft

They used simple materials including wire, hair, card and animal bone. 

Queen Victoria jubilee jewel, commemorative jewel (1847)Museum of Freemasonry

Expensive craft

Jewels are made by artisans even today. Stunning craft skills are displayed through fret cutting, enamelling, die sinking and engraving.

Expensive craft

Some pieces rival the Crown Jewels in their richness, and have indeed been worn by royalty. This jewel was made for King Edward VII.

City Centre Lodge Past Master jewel source material (1939) by Vaughtons Ltd, W H DarbyMuseum of Freemasonry

Getting the design you want

Lodges suggest jewel designs based on their identity.

Getting the design you want

Photographs and other material are used to explain their wishes.

Getting the design you want

The makers will use these to create a painting, which is then used for a design to make the jewel. These paintings were often drawn on scrap card.

City Centre Lodge Past Master jewel design and jewel (1939) by Vaughtons Ltd, W H DarbyMuseum of Freemasonry

The final piece

The makers would then create a final design from which to craft the finished jewel.

The final piece

The makers would then create a final design from which to craft the finished jewel.

Freemasons' Hall inauguration jewel source material (1869)Museum of Freemasonry

Striking design

The Grand Master, head of English freemasonry, approves some jewels personally. This design is for a jewel celebrating the opening of the second Freemasons’ Hall in London in 1869.

Striking design

The Grand Master in 1869 was the Earl of Zetland, and you can see his signature.

Steel die for striking jewel (1869) by Toye, Kenning and SpencerMuseum of Freemasonry

Striking design

The painting of the design is then turned into the steel dies that are used to strike the jewel itself. 

Metal plate and jewel blank (2017) by Toye, Kenning and SpencerMuseum of Freemasonry

Crafting the jewel

Die-striking turns a flat sheet of metal into a jewel ‘blank’.


Cut and polished jewel blank (2017) by Toye, Kenning and SpencerMuseum of Freemasonry

Crafting the jewel

It’s cut out and polished. 



Enammelled jewel (2017) by Toye, Kenning and SpencerMuseum of Freemasonry

Crafting the jewel

Enamel is painted onto it by hand.



Metal plated and polished jewel (2017) by Toye, Kenning and SpencerMuseum of Freemasonry

Crafting the jewel

Polishing and metallic plating completes the jewel before the parts are assembled and it's ready to be worn.



Crafting the jewel

This jewel from the United Grand Lodge of England was bought by thousands of freemasons in 2017. It celebrates 300 years since the first Grand Lodge formed in 1717.



Credits: Story

Photograph and artist's designs for City Centre Lodge, No. 5787 jewel, courtesy of Vaughtons Ltd. (W H Darby).

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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