Ancient sounds

Sentimental locket brooch with putto cameo, England circa 1850

The 19th century was infatuated with cut-stone jewelry. In contrast to earlier eras, when cameos and gems were kept in locked cabinets and delighted only the private collector, they were now meant to be worn as jewelry and admired as transportable works of art by everyone. Gems and cameos with mythological motifs were particularly prized and were made mainly in the Bay of Naples. Northern European travellers brought these often exquisitely carved gems back home as souvenirs; they were also often imported by traders from Italy to the whole of Europe and set locally. The present gem brooch dates from around 1850 and came to us from London. A gold frame with surrounding black enamelling holds the showpiece cut from two-tone shell. The oval cameo presents a winged putto playing a lyre. The brooch is a mourning jewellery, which is not only indicated by the black enamelled frame. The lyre is the instrument that was played at funerals in antiquity; it is often depicted on Greek tombstones. On the back of the brooch, a compartment under glass allows you to carry a physical memento with you. A strand of blond hair has been preserved in it to this day. In our days, detached from mourning convention, the brooch can of course also be used as a decorative accessory!

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.