How many of us are privileged enough to boast that we own a true Work of Art? We may not all be in a position to own a Leonardo or a David Hockney but we may be able to acquire a piece of jewellery that is arguably just as unique and beautiful.
In the antique jewellery world; hand crafted items form individual and unique pieces which may be considered to be one off works of Art – gems may be carved such as Mother of Pearl, Jade and Coral, Micromosaics, Shell and hardstone Cameos, hand painted miniatures often set as lockets or pendants.
A ‘Cameo’ might be carved from a shell, coral, Mother of pearl or even a hardstone such as Agate and where the artist cuts away layers at differing depths to reveal colours as well as relief in their design. In shell Cameos -often the brown Helmet shell or the pink Conch shell – popular subjects include the portrait profile, religious or classical scenes – even landscape scenes – popular souvenirs from the time of the Grand Tour. Some Cameo carvings exhibit a tremendous level of detail and intricacy – some are even signed by the artist!
Micromosaics are enjoying a revival of interest with a growing number of collectors. Literally made from tiny fragments (tesserae) of glass, marble or coloured stone, they are painstakingly assembled to form pictures of landscapes, world monuments, flora and fauna etc and then set into jewellery – often gold as brooches, pendants and rings. The Grand Tour 17-19th Century saw the widest proliferation of these amazing objets d’art – Roman monuments in particular are popular subjects especially after the discovery of ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum in 1738.
Miniatures – perfect little paintings produced by very skilled artists and again set into jewellery-are often further embellished with coloured vitreous enamels, pearls or even gemstones. They are usually painted onto small porcelain plaques, many are signed and exhibit superb detail in their craft.
At D J Massey we have a curio cabinet filled to bursting with examples of antique and vintage jewellery items – representing a bygone era when jewellery making was literally an artform.