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. *
Carved from bright orange coral, the majestic woman on the face of this cameo resembles a typical Edwardian depiction of what appears to be a Native American maiden. Fascinated by the lore and exotic allure of indigenous peoples, nineteenth century artisans tended to portray the women with hair ornaments of feathers and blossoms, as romantic figures of bounty and compliance. The icon of the American Maiden was admired by much of the upper crust and was incorporated into poetry, literature and the fine and decorative arts.
While these works retain their beauty, perhaps today we can revisit history in a more clarified manner, honoring Native Americans by owning and enjoying these pieces with the knowledge of and respect for the First People, one of which was Gertrude Simmons (b. 1876), a Native American author and activist of the Yankton Dakota Sioux. As a teenager, she changed her name back to her original one: Ztkala-Sa, which translates to Red Bird in Lakota. Her story has inspired us to name this ring in her honor; to discover more about her, refer to the below link!
* Source: My Modern Met https://mymodernmet.com/history-of-cameo-jewelry
Size (can be resized): 7
Dimensions: Ring top is 24mm at widest point.
Weight: 7.7 grams
Materials: Gold, carved orange coral cameo
Metal: 14K yellow gold
Marks: Partial stamp (14K)
Condition: Excellent antique condition