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Italian Cameo Pin/Pendant

$119.00

Price: $119.00

Item#:1075465

Qty: Available, ready to ship.





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This graceful cameo is hand-carved in the southern Italian town of Torre del Greco, at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, using the pink and ivory of the conch shell. The artist delicately carves away the outer layer of the shell to shape a young woman’s profile. Cameos became popular souvenirs for English tourists visiting the newly excavated ruins of Pompeii during the mid 18th century. Sterling silver. Signed by the artist.


Hinged bail. Pin/pendant: 1"L. Chain: 18"L.

Cameos have been popular for more than six millennia. Carvings have been found in Mesopotamia and Minoan Crete. Early Greek and Roman carvings in gems and precious stones depicted mythological themes and idealized images of women. Pope Paul II, known during the Renaissance for his love of flashy jewelry, was a devoted cameo collector. They've adorned military helmets, signet rings, brooches, dishes and vases, and much more.


Shell cameos reached new heights of popularity during the mid 1800s. When the ruins of Pompeii were excavated starting in the 1740s, it became a must-see destination with England's elite. Cameos made from the shells harvested by local fishermen were one of the most frequent souvenirs to show off one's well-traveled, cultural status back home.


Cameos remained popular throughout the 19th-century Victorian era. Queen Victoria was often seen wearing shell cameos as well as jasperware ones made by Josiah Wedgwood. Cameos featuring the profile of a beautiful woman—either a commissioned portrait or an anonymous idealized figure—became especially popular during the 19th century.


It was during this time that the southern Italian fishing village of Torre del Greco, at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius less than 10 miles from Pompeii, became known for producing some of the best shell cameos in the world. Since shells are inexpensive and easy to carve, Italian cameos were deemed appropriate for daytime wear and started to be appreciated for their artistry more than their sparkle.


Harvesting coral, or "red gold," had been Torre del Greco's main industry for a century, but in 1805 the king of Naples granted a 10-year exclusive license on the harvesting of coral and shells to a Frenchman named Paolo Bartolomeo Martin. Martin set up the first cameo-producing workshop and the entire industry took off. Today Torre del Greco is a popular resort town, with old noble summer palaces on the outskirts, but cameo production remains its specialty.


Master carver Gennaro Borriello oversees the creation of all of our cameos and adds the finishing touches that make them miniature works of art. Cameo carving remains a cottage industry, and Borriello and his team work in home studios rather than a factory.


The shell they use is from a shellfish called a bullmouth or red helmet shell, Cypraecassis rufa, and is harvested for food in Madagascar and Tanzania. Italian carvers buy the cleaned shells, and cut them into small curved pieces that will become the cameo.


Working with hand tools, they scrape away the shell's rough outer surface to reveal the white beneath. Then they carve delicate features in relief, working down to the pink outer layer that adds warmth and contrast to the ivory-like image. The cameos are soaked in olive oil to prevent them from becoming brittle, and then polished to reveal their shine. Since each cameo is hand-carved and unique, the sterling silver bezels are also handcrafted for a custom fit.


This image is inspired by mid-19th century designs, when Italian cameo carvers started creating profiles of women that differed from the Romanesque ideal of classical features and straight noses. Our cameo features a woman with a more upturned nose and upswept hair in a French style, although she still wears a draped Roman-style tunic.


REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
 
4.0

(based on 9 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (2)

78%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

    Cons

      Best Uses

          • Was this a gift?:
          • Yes (4)

        Reviewed by 9 customers

        Sort by

        Displaying reviews 1-9

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        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        I loved pendant ....

        By paintcan

        from NC

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

          Cons

            Best Uses

              My bride did not like it.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • Yes

              (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Elegant Italian Cameo

              By Sunnycj

              from Harlan, KY

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Authentic
              • Price quality

              Cons

              • none

              Best Uses

              • Gift

              This most lovely Cameo was purchased by my sister, mother and myself for another sister's 50th Birthday. She could not have been more pleased and we were thrilled with the price and authenticity of this lovely piece of heirloom quality jewelry! After having lived in as well as having traveled to many parts of Italy, I know what a fine cameo looks like. This cameo is perfection!!!

              • Was this a gift?:
              • Yes

              (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

               
              1.0

              Disappointing jewelry

              By Savage

              from St. Augustine, Florida

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                    It took me just 5 seconds to decide to return this CHEAP LOOKING ITEM. What a disappointment!!!

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • Yes

                    (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    1.0

                    Poorly made

                    By cameo lover

                    from Utah

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                      Cons

                      • Don't buy

                      Best Uses

                        Poorly made.

                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

                        (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        an old fashioned treausre

                        By gordo

                        from annapolis, md

                        Pros

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                              the real thing!

                              • Was this a gift?:
                              • Yes

                              (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                               
                              4.0

                              Italian Cameo Pendant

                              By None

                              from Fort Myers, FL

                              Verified Buyer

                              Pros

                              • Delicate Feminine Just
                              • Lovely
                              • The Right Size

                              Cons

                                Best Uses

                                • Gift for daughter
                                • Sentimental Gift

                                Have not yet given gift. Recipients reaction will be the best review of all.

                                (11 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                5.0

                                Very Lovely Cameo

                                By Kat29

                                from Roseville, CA

                                Verified Buyer

                                Pros

                                • Authentic
                                • BEAUTIFUL
                                • Excellent price-point
                                • Good materials
                                • Well Made

                                Cons

                                • none

                                Best Uses

                                • Everyday
                                • Going Out

                                I love my new Cameo necklace! It is beautifully made, so lovely to look at and very authentic. So many cameos are cheaply made these days and not made of authentic materials. One has to watch out for the impostor's that use resin instead of shells, carnelian and/or onyx. I have always wanted one but the real thing is usually out of my price range so when I saw this one in the catalog I jumped at the chance to own one. The cameo comes signed by the artist which is another indication of authenticity. Would highly recommend to anyone ever wanting one or as a gift for someone special.

                                (13 of 14 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                5.0

                                Italian Cameo Pin/Pendant

                                By Jo

                                from St. Louis

                                Verified Buyer

                                Pros

                                • I LOVE IT
                                • Quality beautiful

                                Cons

                                • none

                                Best Uses

                                  Worn with a V neckline this pendant looks beautiful and is lovely as a pin on a scarf around the neck. It has a charming antique look that is rich and yet practical.

                                  (13 of 13 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  5.0

                                  unique and beautiful

                                  By chris

                                  from ny

                                  Verified Reviewer

                                  my wife will wear this heirlom quality piece with pride . nice hand made piece

                                  Displaying reviews 1-9

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