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. *
This sizeable carved shell cameo brooch depicts a lady on horseback, riding sidesaddle, with a falcon at her arm, and a hound at the ready. Her costume, and the blanket on the horse are in the Medieval style, finely carved in detail. With her veiled headdress flowing behind her proudly held head, she reaches out her graceful arm for the falcon to land, creating a romantic image of days of yore so cherished by the Victorians. There is some wear and age on the 14 karat gold frame, which is consistent with a piece of this age. The cameo has no chips or cracks, and the carving is sharp and clear. Perfect for any collector of antique jewels, cameo lover, or advocate of strong women, it's a wonderful brooch that will take a place of honor in your jewelry box!
* Source: My Modern Met https://mymodernmet.com/history-of-cameo-jewelry
Dimensions: 45mm x 35mm
Weight: 9.5 grams
Materials: Gold, carved shell cameo
Metal: 14K yellow gold
Condition: Good antique condition; wear and patina on gold frame.