As persons of royalty tended to set the jewelry trends for the era, periods in jewelry are often named after a royal figure. While history suggests that Queen Elizabeth and Catherine the Great favored cameos, they became particularly popular in the Victorian period because of Queen Victoria’s love for them.
Cameos are beautiful three-dimensional scenes or portraits carved from a variety of materials.
During the day, jewelry lovers in the Victorian period preferred the Italian carvers’ tradition of creating cameos out of shell. Shell was considered a less formal alternative to stone cameos, typically carved out of agate, onyx or sardonyx. In the evening or for special occasions, stone cameos adorned many a Victorian woman’s dress – from dowagers to duchesses.
Cameos are proving to be an enduring favorite, as modern takes on cameos are becoming just as popular during our time period. In fact, cameos are even being touted as the statement piece for the fall season! Instead of the reserved styles of our Victorian ancestors, modern cameos are a playful, bright mix of old and new.
Modern jewelry designers are offering beautiful reinventions of cameos. Some of the most influential designers in the modern cameo world were recently featured in the LA Times. Some of our favorites include:
Amedeo Scognamiglio, a fifth generation southern Italian cameo maker, has an unusual vision of cameos that includes bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings that feature everything from ducks in dresses to the popular “See No Evil” monkeys. Each of Scognamiglio’s punk inspired pieces is handcrafted and one of kind.
Lydia Courteille, renowned Parisian jewelry designer, combines antique cameo with bright jewels to create vibrant pieces. Like this imaginatively designed ring, which combines cameo, yellow gold and silver, diamonds, rubies, agate and enamel.
European jewelry designers aren’t the only ones reimaging cameo jewelry. American jewelry designers are also bringing their own unique twist to traditional cameo styles.
New York jewelry designer, Tom Binns, uses bold color and unique humor to make striking pieces. These drop earrings, part of Binns’ Samba Collection, feature Swarovski crystals and a multi-colored cameo, made from rhodium, crystal, and brass.
Californian designer, Julie Wolf, creates bold one of a kind pieces in her Washington, DC studio. By placing an antique cameo on an oxidized sterling silver gothic cross, set with green emeralds and opals, Wolf creates a captivating necklace that’s the perfect blend of old and new styles.
Whether the designers combine antique cameos with modern jewelry design or carve entirely new cameos, the centuries old jewelry continues to be timeless. The modern revitalization also means that modern cameo lovers can find a reason to wear cameo jewelry during the day and for more formal occasions – just as our Victorian ancestors did.
To find a beautiful cameo of your own, contact an expert at Geolat. We travel the world to discover exquisite jewelry and can find the perfect cameo for you.