Your Image, Carved in Stone

Unusual Cameo Brooch With Locket, England Circa 1850

To possess antique cameos 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 ancient sealstones and cameos, which represent the ancient imagery of glyptic almost in its entirety. Cameo jewellery was especially popular in Victorian England. The brooch we have here dates from this period and is surprising for its rare motif: instead of the often common portrait of a lady or depiction of an ancient deity, a small scene is shown here: a cute putto has raised a hammer and is chiseling at the bust of a beautiful lady resting on a pedestal. The putto is clad only in a loincloth and a bouquet of blossomed flowers can be seen behind him. The scene is beautifully sculpted from a shell and contrasts effectively with the white lime layer of the shell against the dark background. Presumably, the cameo is a love offering because its statement is as beautiful as it is telling. The genius of love himself, carves the image of the beloved in stone and preserves it for eternity. An elaborate setting of the nauralistic style of the 1850s holds the shell cameo and turns it into a brooch. But the piece of jewellery has a little secret that underpins the acceptance of the gift of love: on the back of the cameo is a built-in locket that makes room for a locket or photograph of a loved one. The highlight of the piece is that the locket and cameo are set in a so-called "swivel mount" so that the two representations can be rotated along a vertical axis in the framing. This allows the contents of the locket or the cameo to be presented in the brooch. The frame itself is elaborately designed branchwork and is made of so-called pinchbeck, a brass alloy that has been used in England since the 18th century as a decorative substitute metal for gold. The lovingly conceived piece of jewellery came to us as London.

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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.