Loyal love

Beautiful antique shell cameo of the Fides as brooch and pendant, Italy circa 1875

Cut into the shell of a sea snail we see the bust of a young woman. The finely engraved relief of the shell shows the graceful lady in profile to the right with her hair pinned up and adorned with ivy vines. The sitter in this cameo from Victorian times is Fides, the personification of loving fidelity. As firmly as ivy scales a wall and will not let go, fidelity binds two people together - which is why the ivy is an attribute of Fides depicted here. This Victorian symbolic language was also associated by the painter Philip Hermogenes Calderon in his painting "Broken Vows" (1856), in which he depicted a faithful lover in front of a wall overgrown with ivy. The cameo is set in 14-karat gold, making it wearable as a brooch and as a pendant. It is in very good condition and came to us from Western Germany. The typical late Victorian piece of jewellery celebrates faithful love and is thus suitable as a gift for a wedding anniversary, for example.

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.


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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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