Late Victorian 10kt Carved Shell Cameo Pin
The earliest known use of shell for cameo carving was during the 15th and 16th centuries. Before that, cameos were carved from hardstone. The Renaissance cameos are typically white on a grayish background and were carved from the shell of a mussel or cowry. In the mid 18th century, explorations revealed new shell varieties. Helmet shells from the West Indies, and queen conch shells from the Bahamas arrived in Europe, thus sparking a big increase in the number of cameos that were carved from shells. Most commonly, cameos portrayed the faces or images of Romanesque women. Most often they had upswept hairstyles and some were even adorned with jewelry. The cameos usually depicted the portrait of the "idealized" woman or god's and goddesses from mythology.
This Late Victorian (ca1900) cameo pin is hand carved from shell and is simply gorgeous! The large cameo is set in an ornate 10kt gold frame, which combines a border of small filigree hearts and flower appliqué corners. The beautiful cameo is highly detailed, depicting the profile of a stately woman. The curls in her hair flow down the side of her face and lay upon her chest. A wonderful headband rests at the crown of her head, and folds of fabric drape across her bust and shoulders, adorned with a bouquet of carved roses at her shoulder. On the back is a secure pin clasp which is stamped "10K". This exquisite brooch would make a lovely addition to any cameo collection!
Measurements: The cameo pin measures approximately 2 7/8" tall, is 2 1/4" wide and 1/2" deep.
Condition: The overall condition of the brooch is excellent. There is no apparent damage to the cameo or to the gold setting and the pin clasp is secure and in good working condition.