The Curl of Berenice

Antique gold brooch with an agate cameo of Berenice, around 1870

The late 19th century brooch here celebrates an energetic woman: the Pharaoh of Egypt and Queen of Cyrene Berenice II. The daughter of the king of Cyrene and the Syrian princess Apama, she was born around 270 BC. For dynastic reasons, she was betrothed at a young age by her mother to Demetrios the Handsome - whose physical attraction was apparently so strong, however, that shortly after his arrival her mother herself entered into an affair with Demetrios. Berenike, with short decision, then instigated a rebellion and had the unfaithful husband murdered in her mother's bedroom. Her mother, however, let her live. Berenice then became sole ruler and decided to marry Ptolemy III of Egypt, as she did not want to lose her position and hoped for economic advantages for her kingdom through the connection with Egypt. After her husband then waged war in Syria in 246 BC, the administration of both countries lay entirely with Berenice. The poem "The Curl of Berenice" by Callimachus dates from this period. According to it, Berenice vowed to sacrifice a lock of hair upon the king's healthy return home. After Ptolemy actually returned, Berenice made good on her promise. The lock of hair was taken to the temple of Arsinoe Zepherites. A day later it had disappeared, and the mathematician Konon of Samos discovered it in the sky. This sign of the zodiac, the "Hair of Berenice", still reminds us of the powerful queen who knew how to defend her kingdom and her position in a society of men. The round brooch presented here is another monument to her. Beautiful and detailed, the profile portrait of Berenice is cut into a two-tone layered agate. Her rich hair flows in beautiful curls down her neck. The setting of gold with two surrounding antiqued pearl bars emphasizes the tribute to Berenice. Her design follows the fashion of the 1870s for round brooches and looks like a large shield, so that the queen who so stoutly defended her rights and was taken up to heaven in return can herself be worn like a self-confident sign, a blazon.

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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.