A cameo is a form of glyptography, or bas-relief carving, most often cut into glass, hard-stones, and shells. Artworks were crafted to create two layers on one piece of material, the top of which protruded from its background, creating a multi-dimensional artwork. These detailed reliefs were often used to adorn pieces of jewelry, including brooches, necklaces, bracelets and rings. The earliest cameos took inspiration from prehistoric petroglyphs, which documented important religious and symbolic iconography onto rock faces.
Despite its popularity in previous periods, the most well-known era for cameo collection was the 19th century, inspired by royal cameo collectors Queen Victoria and Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte. Shelled cameos, which depicted these natural and humanistic scenes onto deep-sea shells, became quite popular under Queen Victoria’s reign. Similarly, Napoleon himself founded a Parisian apprentice school to foster the talents of young cameo carvers. Cameos have been in continuous production, and remain popular today in brooches, necklaces and rings.
This stunning brooch features a desirably curvaceous woman carved in high relief of malachite, a stone long believed to aid in transformation. The carving is most likely from the mid twentieth century, as the style and features of the lady fit the aesthetic of the 1950s to 1960s. Framed in an antique 14 karat yellow gold setting and adorned with 18 deep pink rubies, she is further embellished with stations of white enamel. A hook at the top of the brooch could be used to wear her as a pendant, but probably was a means of adding a dangler to the original antique element. A visually arresting piece, sure to garner interest from all who gaze upon her!
Dimensions: 1.875" x 2.125"
Weight: 52.6 grams
Materials: Gold, Ruby, Malachite, Enamel
Metal: 14K yellow gold
Marks: 14K (on pin)
Condition: Excellent Antique & Estate condition commensurate with age and wear