Jane Nead

Jane Nead

Shakespeare Institute
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: ‘You have beguiled me with a counterfeit’: The Hallmark of Truth and the Exposure of Artifice in Shakespeare’s Work
Supervisor: Dr Will Sharpe and Dr Ann-Marie Carey (Birmingham City University)
PhD Shakespeare Studies


  • BA Honours French (University of Birmingham)
  • City & Guilds Levels 1-3 in Structured Jewellery Design (City Lit London)
  • MA Shakespeare and Theatre (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham)


I trained as a jewellery designer-maker 11 years ago. Between 2014 and 2017, whilst working part-time at the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office, I developed two jewellery collections inspired by Shakespeare. I launched ‘The Noble Fool’ Collection in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2015 and was subsequently commissioned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to design the Knot Garden collection for the opening of Shakespeare’s New Place in 2016.

I began my MA in 2017 and over the past three years I have discovered a fascinating symbiotic relationship between my life as an MA student and my life as a jeweller. Shakespeare uses an extensive metal- and jewellery-related vocabulary within his work and I have become increasingly interested in the way that Shakespeare weaves this vocabulary into his writing, particularly in the unusual case of touchstones and precious metal testing (assaying) phraseology.  

By combining my fascination with Shakespeare’s language and the original practices of the goldsmith and assayer, I intend to illustrate the power of Shakespeare’s words and provide a new layer of meaning to Shakespeare’s language of deceptive appearance and disguise.


I am taking an interdisciplinary approach to the examination of Shakespeare’s language of deception and disguise, expressed through imagery relating to metal, jewellery, coins, testing (assaying), hallmarking and counterfeiting, and demonstrated through material fabrication. As a maker – facilitated by the Birmingham School of Jewellery and supported by the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office - I will use my original practice-led investigations to demonstrate how, for example, the properties of a metal may provide clues to character traits, or why metal-working techniques are so frequently used to indicate temperament or parentage. As an academic, I will use close textual analysis to provide a new, material context for Shakespeare’s vocabulary from the point of view of the goldsmith or assayer, enriching academic scholarship in the field of early modern material culture.

Other activities

‘The Acid Test – Touching Base with Timon of Athens’, British Graduate Shakespeare Conference (Britgrad), Stratford-Upon-Avon, 2019