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Gender Balance Not Bias - Great Looking Antique Cameo
by: Anonymous

Steven
If the reverse of the cameo is a concave shape consistent with the shape of a conch shell then it's pretty safe to say it's carved from Shell. The artist has used the color of the shell incredibly well to give the subject depth and interest. The frame looks vintage or more likely antique.
Does the male have a mustache? This will help to date it. A more clean-shaven look was in fashion around the 1880s when the beard was upstaged by the mustache as now men could use razors instead of blades - styles for facial hair have told a story of changing ideas about men and masculinity. Interestingly, Alexander in the Ptolemy Cameo is clean shaven. (See further down)

These small details, make a cameo come alive and give it a unique "signature'. No two hand carved cameo even of the same subject will ever be exactly the same. This is the beauty of hand carving as opposed to machine made.

Double portrait cameo carving goes back to the famous Ptolemy Cameo of Alexander the Great and his mother Olympias and made (and somehow survived the centuries) towards the end of the 1st century BCE.

And master cameo carvers have been recreating double cameo portraits, each using their artistic license to produce their own variations ever since. The male and female double portrait cameo, shows a complete lack of gender bias, on the contrary, the double subject of male and female here makes a powerful statement of gender balance and there is this sense of equanimity.

Your cameo is not costume Steven - not that there is anything "wrong" with costume jewelry which is steadily increasing in value. This type of jewelry is a sustainable alternative to manufactured new jewelry.

I would consider this cameo to be a high-grade antique cameo, unique and investment worthy. The frame if it is gold will add to the value depending on the weight, caratage, the goldwork that went into the material and of course the current gold price. Don't concern yourself too much if the frame tests gold filled and not gold which would still be in keeping with an antique cameo of the late 19th c - the money is in the age and the craftsmanship. Use great care when cleaning this item, the shell is soft material in contrast to the metal frame and the shell can easily be damaged by chemicals including metal cleaning solutions; the condition is vital if you were to sell.

It's beautiful Steven!

Kind Regards
Yvonne



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