The goddess Minerva

Pretty cameo brooch with depiction of Minerva, Italy and England around 1930

The heaven of the gods of antiquity knew many deities for every conceivable concern and with the various responsibilities. The goddess Minerva, young, beautiful and graceful, was the mistress of wisdom, strategy and the arts and sciences. Since Augustus, she has also been worshipped as the goddess conferring victory or directing the fortunes of the state. The cameo we have here shows us her profile image cut into bicoloured shell. The face of the goddess is shaped according to the ancient ideal of beauty with a straight nose and is calm, yet full, beautiful and elegant. The representation presented here is probably the work of a cameo carver from the region around the Gulf of Naples, for it was there in particular that craftsmen developed a special mastery of working in conch shell in the 19th century that was celebrated throughout Europe. These cameos with mythological motifs were mainly made for travellers on the Grand Tour. They brought them back home as souvenirs and often had them made into jewellery there. Our Minerva found its way to England where it was made wearable as a brooch with a gold setting, as evidenced by the English stamps on the back of the brooch. We have discovered this well preserved piece of jewellery, which was probably created in the years around 1930, here in Berlin.

A rather forgotten chapter of jewellery history today are the many substitutes for the expensive precious metals gold and silver that have been used over the centuries. The names of these inventions are legion, perhaps you have heard of Tombak or Alpacca, German silver or Argentan? In the 19th century, gold was often replaced by brass, alloys of copper and zinc. The London watchmaker Christopher Pinchbeck (ca. 1670 - November 18, 1732) invented a special alloy named after him, whose color was particularly close to gold and from then on became especially popular in England. On Christopher Pinchbek see Ginny Reddington Dawes / Olivia Collings: Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830, Woodbridge 2007, p. 80 pp. 39f.

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.