Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo
Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo

BR298

Victorian 14k Hand-Carved Helmet Shell Cameo Brooch Depicting Greek Mythological Story of Ganymede with 18k 0.91 CTW Emerald Halo

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  • Unique find! Only 1 available.

  • Shopping pre-owned is choosing sustainable luxury
  • One-of-a-kind item exclusively curated for you
  • Ships with full insurance + signature confirmation

General Information:

  • Total Carat Weight: 1 hand carved cameo with 0.912 ctw of emeralds
  • Precious Metal Weight: Roughly 2-3 dwt
  • Precious Metal Material: 14k yellow gold prong/pin mounting with 18k bezels holding the emeralds
  • Dimensions: Approximately 31.6 x 27.0 x 4.4 mm (excluding stem pin)
  • Weight: A nicely weighty 7.81 grams
  • Markings: The pin stem features the hallmark of the jewelry house that mounted the cameo in 14k, which appears to be an “A”, followed by an “A” and “V” overlapped and a floral or star form, all within a geometric cartouche. It seems this could be either Dutch or German, but cannot yet be confirmed. We are still hunting down who this maker is, and will update this listing accordingly.  
  • Era: c. 1860-1890
  • Buyer Notes: The cameo is gingerly held by four flattened prongs, somewhat loose within the setting so as to avoid gripping the shell too tightly given its delicate nature. Indeed, the cameo is very wearable and in great antique condition, but will ever so softly rattle if shaken because of its gentle clutched setting. The pin’s closing mechanism is notable because it is a c-clasp and tube hinge (dating c. 1850-1900), but features a cupped safety catch in which the pointed end of the stem pin securely snaps into when closed. Thus, there is no locking lever, and instead the pin is designed to spring into the catch automatically, making it just as stably held as it would be with a lock. Under a loupe, the emeralds show surface abrasions commensurate with age and use. While Victorian cameo jewelry is relatively prevalent on the market, a piece of this subject matter and gemstone content, as well as the quality and detail are few and far between. Thus, this cameo brooch is a rare example of its kind. Fair comparable pieces (of similar weight, gold purity, dimensions, color and shell type, age, technical and artistic skill, allegorical content, gemstone kind and quality, and overall carat weight) on the market at the time of listing average out to a value of $4,335.00 USD.

Specifications:

  • Center Stone Type: Believed to be Cassis Mollusk (Helmet Conch Shell)
  • Center Stone Count: One (1)
  • Center Stone Dimensions: Approximately 25.5 x 20.0 x 3.0 mm
  • Center Stone Shape: Hand-carved oval ‘cabochon’ component
  • Center Stone Color: Creamy peachy-orange background/body-color with white high relief carving
  • Center Stone Clarity: Translucent; background is more translucent compared to the more opaque raised imagery
  • Side Stone Type: Emerald
  • Side Stone Count: Twenty-Four (24)
  • Side Stone Carat Weight: By formula per the specific gravity of emerald, approx. 0.912 ctw; 0.038 ct ea.
  • Side Stone Dimensions: On average, ~2.0 x 2.0 x 1.3 mm
  • Side Stone Shape: Round cabochon
  • Side Stone Color: Good color; medium-light to light tone; bluish-green to strong yellow-green hue
  • Side Stone Clarity: Largely eye clean due to size; slightly included & translucent

The Story:

A stunning piece of wearable artwork, this mythologically themed cameo brooch is virtually one of a kind with no other exact comparables on the open market. This jewel is a relic of a bygone century, of another era of tradition, story-telling and travels. The cameo itself is believed to have originally been a souvenir of the Grand Tour, likely collected during a journey across the European continent sightseeing the ancient sites and partaking in culturally-enriching experiences. 

The Grand Tour of Europe was a months or years-long excursion taken by aristocratic gentlemen (and sometimes newlywed couples), of Britain and colonial and postcolonial America during the 18th and 19th centuries. The intention of this trip was to expose the gentry to multiple cultures, educating them of the most famous historic sites across the continent, though it often ensured opportunities for other, more scandalous activities as well. Along the way, it was expected that travellers would purchase furniture, artwork, and smaller souvenirs such as jewelry, all of which they would have shipped back home. Most antique cameos of this era can be traced to stops along the Grand Tour:

Pieces such as this were created by the hands of highly skilled Mediterranean artisans, designed to sell loose to these wealthy travelers enjoying their Grand Tour. While traveling, Grand Tourists would purchase unmounted jewelry components and loose cameos, which they would bring home and have mounted as so desired. These carvings were extremely well executed, almost as if to be miniature versions of larger, quite famous ancient sculptures. They often depicted scenes from Mythology, and, therefore, not only reminded the tourists of their adventures, but embodied much deeper messages beyond their exterior craftsmanship and charm. 

This cameo is carved from a Cassis Mollusk shell, also called Helmet Conch shell, which is known by its light brown, warm tan, or peachy-orange background. These shells have double inner layers, one being white and rather opaque by comparison of the second, quite translucent color; the shell is carved away so that the opaque layer becomes the high relief image atop the translucent low relief background. This technique can be ascertained by holding the cameo up to the light to reveal how it allows light to pass through it. 

This cameo renders an interpretation of a scene from the Greek Mythological story of Ganymede. In the Iliad (Book XX, lines 233-235), Homer writes, “[Ganymedes] was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore / the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus' wine-pourer, / for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals.” According to lore, Ganymede was the son of the namesake of Troy, and was believed to be the most beautiful human to exist. Even Zeus became enamored with his pulchritude at first sight, spurring the ruler to transfigure into an eagle and swoop to earth to retrieve Ganymede himself. Zeus wanted Ganymede to be a cupbearer to the gods at Olympus, giving him a position of privilege amongst the divine and immortal.

As mentioned, it is quite likely that this shell carving was purchased loose, and was later mounted within its 14k yellow gold setting to be enjoyed as a brooch. It is certainly possible that the current 14k setting is a later (still historic) replacement for an even earlier, possibly less fine, setting that has long been lost to time. Sometime in the piece’s history, the 18k yellow gold halo of bezel-set emeralds was added to the brooch to enhance its visual impact. The date of the emerald addition is unknown, but its beauty is undeniable. This piece is wholly unique, a nicely carved rendition of an ancient tale, and an unusual variation of a classic jewelry type.

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