Secret Keeper

Antique medallion with agate cameo of the Fides, pendant around 1875

Cut into a two-coloured agate we see the bust of a young woman. The finely engraved relief of the stone shows the graceful lady in profile to the left with her hair pinned up and decorated with ivy vines. The sitter is Fides, the personification of loving loyalty. As an attribute, Fides wears a tendril of ivy leaves in her hair. For in the understanding of the time, fidelity was supposed to bind two people together as firmly as ivy climbs a wall and does not let go again. This symbolic language was widespread throughout Europe. For example, a fine example in the medium of painting is Philip Hermogenes Calderon's painting Broken Vows (Tate Britain, 1856). Here the painter depicted a faithful lover in front of a wall overgrown with ivy. The cameo is set in gold and has a little secret. The back is hinged and holds a glazed compartment suitable for holding a curl or photograph. Thus, the personified faithfulness guards a loving keepsake. The piece of jewellery is in very good condition and came to us from the south of Germany. The typical piece of jewellery of the 1870s celebrates loyal love and is thus suitable as a loving gift.

To possess antique cameos and gems was the claim of almost all great collections for centuries: We find spectacular pieces as well in the Green Vault in Dresden, in the treasury of Rudolf II, up to the great private collections like that of Baron Stosch in later times. The 18th and 19th centuries produced numerous large imprint collections of antique seal stones and gems, which represent the antique imagery of glyptic almost in its entirety. Thus they were not least an expression of a humanistic education. Of particular importance for the transmission of stone and shell carvings north of the Alps have always been travellers to Italy, who brought home impressions and carved stones as well as engraved shells from their educational journeys in order to enjoy the stories that the shells could tell. The art of gem cutting has survived to this day in Italy, especially in the Bay of Naples, where it has been passed down from generation to generation. Today, the Scuola dei Cammei in Torre del Greco is the only professional training centre in the world for gem-cutters, although unfortunately the mythological theme has almost been lost as a subject.

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.