Just don't get jealous

Large shell gem with representation of Psyche as brooch, around 1850

A beautiful young lady looks to the right. She seems to laugh, her face is cheerful. Rich and full, her hair curls over her head and neck. She wears an antique robe, a wreath of roses in her hand - and to everyone's surprise, translucent butterfly wings grow from her back! Thus she leads us into the realm of Greek mythology. Depicted is Psyche, an ancient king's daughter whose beauty was so great and famous that it aroused the jealousy of the goddess Venus. When her son, Cupid, the messenger of love, fell in love with the mortal, Venus gave the unfortunate woman several dangerous tasks. But against all expectations, Psyche mastered the trials with the help of her lover, who disobeyed his mother's orders. Finally, the supreme god Jupiter took pity on the couple. He had a cup of ambrosia handed to Psyche, thus making her immortal and admitting her to Olympus. The butterfly as a symbol of the soul is her attribute and so she found her way into art. The present brooch encloses the finely cut portrait of Psyche with a frame of intertwined golden branches. The sculptural cut of the cameo is matched by the beautiful craftsmanship of the frame. The cameo, presumably cut in Italy and subsequently set in gold, was created around 1850 and set in England.

For centuries, the possession of cameos and gems was the claim of almost all great collections of decorative arts and chambers of curiosities, from the Green Vault in Dresden and the treasury of Rudolf II to large private collections such as that of Baron von Stosch in later times. The 18th and 19th centuries produced numerous large imprint collections of antique seal stones and gems, which were able to represent the antique imagery of glyptic almost in its entirety, as they were also an expression of a humanistic education. However, the art of gem-cutting has survived to this day in Italy, especially in the Bay of Naples, where it has been handed down from generation to generation. Today the Scuola dei Cammei in Torre del Greco is the only large-scale training centre for gem-cutters in Italy. Of particular importance for the transmission of stone and shell carving north of the Alps have always been travellers to Italy, who brought home impressions and cut stones as well as engraved shells from their educational journeys to enjoy.

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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.

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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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