Today I am selling a beautiful Victorian shell cameo brooch depicting either Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility (Bacchus in Roman mythology), or his wife Ariadne. The 3/4 profile of a classical figure in a flowing robe has one hand holding up a bunch of grapes and the thyrsus (a pinecone-topped staff used in Dionysis fertility rites) resting against the opposite shoulder. A grape vine grows in the background and there are several grape leaves in the hair. Although the carving is not very 3 dimensional, it is detailed and has depth to the scene. The curved, oval shell is set in a custom 10k gold frame with tiny prongs around the edge holding it in place. A simple scalloped border circles the frame. It is not hallmarked but acid tests positive for 10 karat gold. The pin is a little loose but stays securely in the C clasp. A loop was added at a later date to the top; a large round jump ring is attached and ready for a chain.
CONDITION: Very good for its age. Four prongs are missing from the left side (behind the grape vine) which makes the cameo wiggle slightly but it is not in danger of falling out. The cameo has minor general wear and is slightly dirty. One hairline crack on the lower right side. The 10k gold frame has minor tarnish on the front and a couple of small solder spots on the back. As stated in the description above, the loop at the top is not original.
CIRCA: Late Victorian era
MEASUREMENTS: 2 1/8 inches tall and 1 3/4 inches at its widest (not including extended pin stem); the cameo itself measures 1 13/16 inches tall and 1 1/2 inches wide