Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad
Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad

BR508

Victorian 14k 6.96 CT Lava Stick Pin with Carved Cameo of Greek Maenad

Regular price$500.00
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Shipping calculated at checkout.
  • 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: 6.962 ct (see details below)
  • Total Precious Metal Weight: Estimated to be 1.10 to 1.20 dwt
  • Precious Metal Material: 14k yellow gold
  • Dimensions: Overall, the pin is 63.15 mm long. The bezel pinhead head measures 11.60 mm east to west x 14.61 mm north to south.
  • Weight: 1.93 grams
  • Markings: This piece is stamped with 14K to the bezel backing.
  • Era: The lava cameo is believed to date to the mid 19th century, placing it at circa 1850-1860 while the gold bezel stick pin mounting is believed to date to the late 19th century or early 20th, placing it at circa 1890-1900. However, beyond what our years of collecting, dealing, learning and refining our expertise enable us to determine, we cannot ascertain a more precise date range or history than this without knowledge of the piece’s exact provenance.
  • Buyer Notes: While lava jewelry is an iconic staple of the Victorian woman’s wardrobe, this stick pin is a wondrous rarity, with scarce few other lava cameo stick pins-- certainly none of this skilled carving-- available for sale on the open market at the time of listing and research. The quality of the carving is impressive given the delicate scale of the pin, and the piece retains its detailing without chips, despite its antique age. A treasure and one of a kind collectible, this pin offers an abundance of stories and spirit.

Specifications:

  • Center Stone Type: Lava
  • Center Stone Count: One (1)
  • Center Stone Dimensions: 14.15 x 11.05 x 5.90 mm
  • Center Stone Carat Weight: 6.962 ct per the specific gravity of lava stone
  • Center Stone Shape: Hand carved composite lava stone
  • Center Stone Color: Warm gray
  • Center Stone Clarity: Opaque with earthy-waxy luster

The Story:

Hand-carved by an Italian artisan during the height of the Victorian era, this cameo is made of Italian lava stone and is bezel set in a 14k yellow gold stick pin. The figure featured is a Greek mythological Maenad, a passionate priestess who also followed Dionysus, the god of wine, nature, and fertility. The Roman mythology equivalent of this figure is the Bacchante who was a follower of Bacchus. Maenads were said to be dressed in fawn and fox skins with flowers, leaves and fruits intertwined in their hair, and decorate themselves with snakes. In myths, such women would be in a constant intoxicated frenzy, raving over their god-leader, sexually open and free, prone to tearing into the animals they came across in the forests, and known for dancing rituals and rites under the moon.

In ancient times, images of Maenads decorated vessels called kraters, which were used to hold mixtures of water and wine for parties. At such parties, one man would be elected as the designated “lord of the common drink” whose sole task was to keep tabs on the inebriation level of the attendees, using a krater to proportionately dilute the remaining wine with water as the evening wore on. In true bacchanalian fashion, Maenads were something of an informal ‘mascot’ of wild celebrations.

The portrait is in elegant high relief, with rounded features that recall Hellenistic sculptures. Upon close appreciation one can make out bulbous fruits crowning the cameo’s head, winged by unfurled grape leaves. The Maenad’s hair is gracefully tucked like a circlet, with rings of hair draped gracefully on her shoulders. Her expression is subtly sanguine as if captured in a natural expression of ease. This cameo reveals superb carving techniques, with acutely detailed facial characteristics that indicate the handiwork of a very skilled artist. Its styling and fabrication date the lava to the Mid Victorian years, likely sometime around 1850 to 1860, though the gold mounting (pin) dates to a bit later, to between 1890-1910.

Cameo jewelry depicting Greek Mythological figures and stories grew to popularity during the Georgian and Victorian eras. Beginning in the mid 18th century, it was common for wealthy British and colonial young adults and newlyweds to depart on a “Grand Tour”, a sometimes years-long journey to historic European sites, most centrally, in Italy. Souvenirs such as loose cameos were commonly purchased from local artisans at each site, and once back home, would be mounted according to the purchaser’s preferences. Given the date discrepancy between the lava and the bezel pin, it is very likely that this stick pin features one such cameo, likely originally purchased as a loose carving and later mounted into the present setting. A special heirloom that has seen countless stories and lifetimes, this lava cameo survives as an ode to both Ancient Greek lore and Victorian traditions of another era.

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