A young boy with blushing pink cheeks and extravagant curly hair sits sits within a concave frame in this antique brooch/pendant cameo. He is suspended from a removable carved butterfly bale. The cameo is carved from queen conch shell which is often mistaken for angel skin coral. The mounting is in 14 karat gold.
This piece is very versatile and can be worn many ways. In addition to being able to be worn as a brooch or a pendant, the butterfly can be worn on its own as a smaller pendant; in addition, the butterfly has two hooks on the back which allow it to be worn as a chain connector or to shorten a long chain. In addition, the larger hook on top allows a chain to be passed through it or for it to be hooked on to a chain. Plus, a ribbon up to 5/8" wide can fit into the slot created by the two hooks.
There is a marvelous parure of similar design and construction in the British Museum that is depicted on page 243 of "Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria" by Charlotte Gere. The example in the British Museum is Italian, and it is likely that this brooch/pendant is as well. The set in the British Museum is from 1860-70, and this piece is probably from around that time.
SIZE: 2-3/8" long x 1-3/16" wide
MARKS: none. The gold mountings have been acid tested as 14 karat gold.
AGE: circa 1860-70
CONDITION: excellent antique condition with a few very minor flea bite nicks along the edge of the concave frame. There is a slightly flattened spot on the boy's cheek which appears to be a natural striation in the shell.
Antique Queen Conch Cameo Brooch / Pendant