Antique 18K & Hard Stone Cameo Brooch

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  • Regular price $2,675.00

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 Bonaparte. 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 generously sized brooch depicts the profile of an ancient Greek or Roman lady, most likely a princess or queen or even a goddess. The Victorians were enamored with the Ancients, and cameos like this could be purchased when on the Grand Tour in Italy. although marked 14K, this piece has been acid tested for gold content and it is made of 18 karat yellow gold. Beautiful details such as the scalloped frame and the Etruscan Revival stations at the four sides indicate that a very skilled smith produced this piece. The carving on the cameo is just as impressive, with its subject in white on a stark black background. Beautifully executed, this is one masterpiece any cameo collector will treasure for a lifetime!

Details (approximate)

Dimensions: 2.25"

Weight: 19.3 grams

Materials: Gold, Carved Hard Stone Cameo

Metal: 18K yellow gold (marked 14K; acid test indicates 18K)

Marks: See above

Condition: Excellent Antique condition commensurate with age and wear