Victorian Cameos 👑✨
The use of cameos in necklaces, earrings, bracelets, brooches, and rings is one of the most prolific jewelry motifs used throughout the Victorian Era. Though they pre-date the Victorian era, for the travel-loving Victorians a cameo was a favorite, possibly representing a meaningful souvenir of a Grand European Tour. Many different materials were used for carving cameos - varieties of agate including onyx, sardonyx, and jasper were popular, for example, because they allowed for depth and nuance in the carvings. Let's check out some examples!
This first feature is this handsome 14k Onyx Gentleman Cameo Brooch with Bale, and is a perfect example of onyx use in cameo jewelry during the Victorian period. Onyx is a variety of chalcedony and is banded with contrasting colors, making it an excellent medium for three dimensional carving. Cameos are usually carved with the white layer in relief and the darker color as background, as seen here! This dapper gentleman is featured front and center, showing off his strong features, coiffed hair, and perfected mustache. A great example of the Gatsby era, this piece includes a Neo-Classical border and hand-rendered beading.
Shell was another popular medium for use in cameo carving because it was light in weight and therefore didn’t limit the size of the piece. This Pinchbeck Shell Cameo Brooch large presents a rare subject: a young woman reclining languidly in a rose garden, surrounded by expertly rendered blossoms. She wears an indecorous garment, leaning against a basket filled with cut flowers. This young lady is the personification of vanity, Vanitas. The shell carving is fine and detailed, framed by a setting whose floral engravings mirror the subject of the cameo.
Lastly, another beautiful shell cameo feature! Here we have a 14k Bezel Set Apollo Shell Cameo Pendant. Apollo, the Sun God, also symbolizes light, music, truth, healing, poetry, and prophesy, and is one of the most well-known gods in Greek mythology. Pictured in an effeminate manner with the flower depicted on his shield, as well as his curly locks, the also-known-as God of War completes the look with ancient Roman helmet, sword & arrows.