Thursday, March 3, 2011

What do you think about cameos?

During a conversation about influential jewelry throughout the times, (with another nit-picker-history-crazed-type friend), the subject of Cameos came up.  What is it about these miniature carvings embedded in beatiful settings that keep resurfacing? 

We know that cameos have been around forever (as early as 30 BC for sure) -As for the 18thc though...guess who apparently was responsible for making them fashionable again?  ...You got it...Josephine, of course!  Apparently she loved cameos and set forth a trend for ladies (and gents) to become quite proud of wearing mini replicas of themselves.

And knowing the empress' trademark for having exquisite (and exorbitant) taste,  there's no doubt that she certainly could have been the one to reset the stage for cameo jewelry.  Take a look at this to die-for cameo parure:

As for Napoleon, his own coronation crown is filled with them (named it Charlemagne's crown) as well.

Now, was this Josephine's creative recommendation?  (Does anyone know?)

As for a cameo of Josephine herself, the National Museum of Sweden, has this beautiful one of her by an unknown Italian artist:

Personally, I think cameos are pretty, and although I do own one (my granny's heirloom piece)...I never wear it...doesn't seem to go with anything...Any suggestions?

Do you like cameos?  Fashionable- or not?


Unknown said...

I love them, but like you I never have found a fashionable way to wear them.

Unknown said...

I love cameos. They're so pretty. I used to have a pair of small cameo earrings from my mother, but sadly I lost one of them in a dorm room and haven't worn them since. The only other cameo I've worn was a big one with an historical costume when I was 13.

Margravine Louisa said...

I think cameos look lovely when one is wearing a very simple outfit - black or navy blue, perhaps? otherwise, pinned on a shawl.

Unknown said...

To be honest - they always creeped me out as a kid. I didn't (and still don't really) like how you are wearing someone's face. I think they can be quite beautiful - but I'm just not a real fan.

Roberta said...

Cameos are beautiful but I'm not much of a jewlery fan at all. I wear the same pair of silver hoops in my ears and my rings that my husband has given me and the same watch now for over 15 I wore some costume jewelry when I was working full time but it was so much work just picking out different outfits that jewelry was always on the back burner. Sorry I'm not much help, I know ;)

Lizzie said...

Lucy, EXCELLENT post I have to say that there have been a few jewelry pieces I have made from antique cameo's. It surprised me that every time I made one I sold it to the first person I showed them to. People love cameos and now I know why. Figures Josephine, not to side track but Josephine makes a few appearances in Michelle Moran's Madame Tussaud. I think you will REALLY enjoy the read once you get the chance. PS I love cameo's too.

Lucy said...

Hi Allison:) I know what you mean, it seems I just can't put a look together that involves cameos. And mine are part of a brass bracelet...which should be easier to match than a necklace (I think;)

It's so sad about the lost earring, S.L- especially if they were passed down by your mom. I could just picture a cameo though on an historical costume.

Hi Margravine Louisa:) What a great suggestion! Cameos really are very ornate on their own, so it probably is better to wear them with a very simple (yet elegant) outfit. Thanks.

Heather- You crack me up!! It's true, when you come to think of it they really are creepy! I've always thought about cameos having a generic face...but they are actually representing someone's face...Oh no! Now, I'll have to go examine my bracelet..

Roberta! I know what you mean about hoops...I love mine as well- and when you get used to loops it's kind of hard to settle for anything smaller;) A watch for 15 years? Wow, It must be a very high quality one..I wear all my watches out within a couple of years max -lol!

Lucy said...

Hi Lizzy!! I can't believe you made jewelry pieces out of cameos! You are unbelievable! I'd love to see some've got to post about this too:) I think I'll be reading Moran's book soon. I really have to.

Cerise DeLand said...

I adore them, but am not the kind of style to wear them! Conservative, I should think, would be the best mode.
BUT 2 years ago when in Athens, I went to one of the manufacturers of them. More than 200 years old, this factory (updated of course) offered a tour. And my! The master carvers were a treat to watch.

ceecee said...

They're absolute works of art and I've always wanted to own one! Love them! I've never seen that crown before. Wow. Thanks, Lucy.

Arleigh said...

I think they are lovely, but it is hard to find an outfit to match, because they are elegant and dressy.

BurtonReview said...

As a young girl, I had an "Angelface Barbie" doll that came with a pretty dress..with a long pink skirt, and vintage lace blouse. What separated the two pieces was a quaint black sash.. but at her neck was a small cameo.
I loved it. I am lucky to have some of the heirlooms from my mother's ancestors which feature cameos.

Kirsten Steen said...

I ADORE cameos! I have a small collection. Don't know if they are fashionable but have never cared. Though, like you, I never wear them! We should make an official Cameo Day and wear ours! Hope you're well. And that you had a great trip to Venice last summer! I've been gone awhile but saw that you went in someone else's comment. Envious! If you did a post on your trip, please direct me to it!

Lizzie said...

Hey I just was reading about crown princess of Sweden: Victoria and check out her crown it has cameo's so so pretty