Cameos--a carving with a raised relief of contrasting color, that often depicts a person's profile or scene from mythology--are commonly made of shell, coral, lava, glass, or stone, and set in metal to be worn as jewelry. Queen Victoria of England adored them, and her affection for them set off a trend for women to wear them, followed to this day.
|Queen Victoria wears cameos as pins and a bracelet in this portrait by Heinrich von Angeli, 1875. Public Domain.|
|Woman with cameo pinned to her throat, circa 1912. Photographer and subject unknown. Public Domain.|
Sometimes hidden messages were attached to them. For example, a Hellenistic young woman might wear a cameo depicting Eros to indicate she was romantically interested.
|Athena wearing the ægis. Sardonyx cameo, late 1st century BC. The mount was added later: enameled gold by Josias Belle, late 17th century. Public Domain.|
|The Blacas Cameo|
Christians created cameos in the Byzantine era, often to be worn as enkolpions, a devotional medallion or pendant. Common carvings include angels, saints, and scenes from the Bible.
|Cameo of the Virgin, of bloodstone, circa 900. Public Domain.|
|Pope Paul II, without a cameo ring in sight. Public Domain.|
|Cameo Portrait of Roman Emperor Tiberias mounted on a ring, circa 1625-1675, Italy. Public Domain.|
|Cameo circa 1800 by Benedetto Pistrucci, Italian gem-engraver. Public Domain.|
|Cameo bracelet with portraits of the Hunt Brothers, by William Morris Hunt, c. 1840, gold, shell. Public Domain.|
Today, cameos are mainly worn by women, and cameos can be purchased in any medium from agate to plastic.
|Cameo on sale at Kohl's.|
What about you? Do you own a cameo?
Giveaway: Please comment below by 11:59 pm PDT, June 6, 2019, to enter to win a copy of Cameo Courtships. Include an email address. Void where prohibited.
A Family Heirloom Inspires Romance
In 1851, the “Victoria Cameo” is gifted by Queen Victoria to Letitia Newton, who though considered an old maid, soon has the attention of three gentlemen. Inspired by her own romance and quick marriage, Letitia decides to gift the cameo to other women in her family, hoping romance will follow....
Susanne Dietze is a 2019 RWA RITA-nominated author who has published fifteen romances with Timeless Heart. To learn more about her and her stories, please visit her website, www.susannedietze.com.