The curls of Berenice

Gold brooch with a shell cameo of Berenice, around 1870 and later

The brooch presented here with a cameo of the late 19th century celebrates an energetic woman. Pharaoh of Egypt and Queen of Cyrene Berenice II, daughter of the King of Cyrene and the Syrian princess Apama, 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 the mother herself entered into an affair with Demetrios. Berenice, with a quick decision, 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 also dates from this time. According to this poem, Berenice vowed to sacrifice a lock of her 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. The zodiac sign "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 oval brooch presented here is another monument to her. Beautiful and detailed, the profile portrait of Berenice is cut into a two-tone shell. Her rich hair flows in beautiful curls down her neck. The gold setting was apparently executed in the mid-20th century, as suggested by the modern gold hallmarks and the clasp. The beautiful cameo found its way to us here in Berlin.

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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.

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