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Glyptic – History on Stones

Sunday, 01 May 2011

GlypticPrecious stones always exert attention with the glittering shine and their major capacity is to distinguish against the crowd showing the high status of the wearer. Nevertheless, neither diamonds nor golden bars can clearly define their destination as gems, which are created by craftsmen who possess the old art of glyptic. Cameo and intaglio come as authentic sign ofelegance and ever-lasting beauty put into stones. The art of glyptic is revealed to the fullest extent thanks to the perfect skills of jewelers to use this manner when making brooches and necklaces for ladies and signet rings and cufflinks for men, rings and pendants, or just keepsakes. These accessories come as things for ever and ever occasions.

Art of glyptic back in the past

Glyptic as the jewelry technique of carving on precious and semi-precious stones was known back in the 4th millennium B.C. it was widely practiced by craftsmen from Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt and Aegean Sea Islands. The major glyptic items are gems, stones of various texture and shape, often they come as oval gems with the carved pattern. Gems are classified into intaglio and cameo according to the performance technique. The intaglio pattern is carved deep inside the stone while cameo has prominent shapes. The raw material for glyptic were soft rocks as serpentine, haematite and solid rocks as cornelian, agate and various chalcedony, crystal. The intaglio was preliminary known as the only technique for glyptic. Thus, during diggings of burial places form the 1st century A.D., the intaglio from chalcedony was found with the image of a bird pecking a fish. The intaglio was made by the craftsmen five centuries before the burial. Such scene is too common for antique intaglios and so, the coat of arms of Sinope city had the picture of an eagle attacking the dolphin in the center.

Our ancestors had decorations as the figure of animals, birds and people; they used to wear first signet-rings, mainly expressing dung-beetle. So, the signet-ring belonging to Caesar depicted Armed Venus or Venus armáta. When the signet-ring touched the wax or clue, the perfect imprints were made, the prototypes of modern stamps. In the 4th century B.C. the jewelers of Hellenism epoch created first cameos. Unlike intaglio, cameos depicted the real scenes from ancient myths, pictures of gods and people, made in gems. The word cameo is supposed to mean from Italian the «shell», which is fairly squares with reality since previously the sea shells were used to make such gems. The most reputed among the gems is the cameo Gonzaga called after the name of the Duke Louis Gonzaga, whose family possessed the jewelry throughout 16th – 17th centuries. The cameo depicted the faces of Egyptian ruler Ptolemaic II and Arsinoe, his wife. The jewelry was made by the anonymous craftsman who lived in the 3rd century B.C., from the polychromic agate in three layers trimmed with gold.

Catherine II was a knee-high to cameo whose luxury collection of jewelers is kept in Hermitage. During her reign the antique jewelry were in demand, and even higher than diamonds. Gold, pearls and precious stones were just trimming elements to glyptic items.

Glyptic in modern jewelry

Mademoiselle Coco Chanel is known for the little black dress and a thread of pearls, and cameo brooche is the other distinctive feature for her. She loved her jewel much to wear all the time. The fashion for glyptic was revived along with vintage items, laces, silk and classic style in design. The new Russian line of cameos by «Agate Cameo» resembles the old brooches and pendants from grandmas as gems made by jewelers from 19th century.

The Jewelry House Dior Joaillerie in collaboration with the designer Victoire de Castellane  launhed the black-and-white collection of cameo-brooches and rings antique styled adding more glitter to the décor of diamonds, gold, grenade and sapphires.

Responding the fashion trend the jewelers by Tagliamonte launched the collection of gems called Diamond based upon the images of the ancient Gods as Venus, Athena, Marc, Jupiter, hidden in the colored murano glass. The gems were trimmed in golden frames, diamonds, pearls, corals and other precious and semi-precious stones.

The Italian jewelers of Pomellato came with the idea to revive the true sort of cameo looking for the shells for the work and thoroughly examining the quality of the material. The collection was called Eva for the Bible scenes, the central figurine of decoration was the snake, the Devil. The pink gold was traditionally used for Pomellato.

The jewelers by Agatha changed their preferences and stepped aside from classic style in glyptic. The designers opt for rubber, glass and wood as the material for cameo attracting more attention to these jewels.

The price range for cameo depends on the material and complexity of performance. So, the cameo broche from the Joan Rivers Collectio used from the jeweler alloy with some acryl, crystals and enamel costs around $100 USD. And the cameo brooches made from the shell, white gold and diamond of 0,01 carat is a little bit cheaper than $1000 USD.

Glyptic shown at red carpets

The fashion for antique cameo and intaglio was so storming that it involved celebrities and show-biz persons who, as a fact, set trends for vintage decorative accessories. Splendid Sharon Stone is keen on rings and earrings with cameo made as classic glyptic style. Gems are so universal that can be used as brooches and pendants.

Today fashion followers decorate their handbags, dresses and belts with cameo gems. Extravagant Pink was getting married wearing a white-snow dress by Monique Lhuillier. The zest of her ensemble was the black band with the bow and cameo brooch in antique style.

Glyptic takes take to create and jewelers still make strength of the stone into the eternal item. Touching with precious stones that have gone through centuries and epochs, we perceive their majestic power to the full extent. And we have the challenge to stay in history if own the cameo with our portray or those of our folks.

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