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Antique Italian Carved Sea Shell Cameo 1850 $199.99


For Customers outside of USA

Genuine Mid-Nineteenth Century Hand Carved Sea Shell Cameo.

DIMENSIONS: 30mm in length; 23mm in width, 3mm in thickness. Weight is 3.98 grams.

ORIGIN: Torre Del Greco, Italy. Approximately 1850-1860.

NOTES: Mounted onto high quality contemporary sterling silver setting. Included is a silver electroplate chain. 14kt gold fill and solid gold settings and chains available upon request.

Absolutely gorgeous and historically significant are the best ways to describe this stunning cameo. For over 500 years a tiny town in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius has been famous for the production of cameos hand carved from sea shells. Although we have no idea who this elegant lady is, she must have been very proud to have her likeness carved into such a beautiful piece of jewelry. Genuine antique sea shell cameos from Torre Del Greco are very difficult to come by. We’re fortunate to have a small collection – but when they are gone, they are gone forever. We have mounted this gorgeous piece into a high quality sterling silver setting which complements the cameo without overpowering it. We include an attractive silver electroplated chain. If you prefer, this cameo could be remounted into your choice of 14kt solid gold or 14kt gold fill. And of course we have chains available to match.

Cameos have been a popular form of artistic jewelry for around 2,500 years. Although some sources put the origin of cameo carving in Hellenic Alexandria, Egypt in the late fourth century B.C., evidence suggests that the Greeks brought it with them. In any event, cameos were extremely popular in the Greco-Roman world. The origin of the word may be the Hebrew “Kamea”, for a charm or amulet; or Latin “Cammaeus” for an engraved gemstone. Cameos historically were produced from sea shells or semi-precious gemstones such as quartz agate. The most popular form of cameo in the Roman world was the intaglio cameo, where the image was carved out of the gemstone forming a recess. Typically the medium was transparent/translucent orange carnelian. There is a magnificent collection of such intaglio cameos in St. Petersburg, Russia, at The Hermitage. Early Green and Roman intaglios featured images of gods and goddesses, mythological themes, beautiful women, portraits of their owners, and biblical events.

The second style of cameo was historically produced from sea shells or translucent or opaque gemstones such as banded agate. Here the image was cut in relief – successive of layers of material cut away to produce an image. Relief cameos from semi-precious stones such as agate were more common in the ancient world. Those carved from sea shells came much later, Medieval or Renaissance in origin. When the Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century, so did the art form of carving cameos, both relief and intaglio. The Renaissance revived the art form in the fifteenth century. A tiny town at the base of Mount Vesuvius (Torre Del Greco, Italy) became the center of cameo production from sea shells, and remains so today. A small town in Germany (Idar-Oberstein) became famous for the production of cameos from agate.

The antiquities offered were originally part of a collection accumulated throughout most of the twentieth century. The Roman artifacts were found principally in Romania (literally "land of the Romans"), Bulgaria, and Syria. The Sumerian artifacts were unearthed in both Turkey and Syria, which along with Iraq and Iran constituted the majority of the sites of the ancient Sumerian civilizations. The Egyptian antiquities were part of a collection amassed in the mid-1960's, at the height of Soviet influence in Egypt. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.

SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.

Our order fulfillment center near Seattle, Washington will ship your purchase within one business day of receipt of your personal check or money order. If you wish to pay electronically, we accept both PayPal and BidPay. However we ask that you PLEASE WAIT before remitting until we have mutually agreed upon method of shipment and shipping charges and you understand our PayPal limitations and policies (stated here). We will ship within one business day of our receipt of your electronic remittance.

A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. We prefer your personal check or money order over any other form of payment - and we will ship immediately upon receipt of your check (no "holds"). Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."