Nothing says vintage like a brooch, and hand-carved brooches using gems like the coral and carnelian shown here, add a classic touch to any ensemble. Hand-carved jewelry has been around for millennia and precedes the most complicated faceting technique. Mesoamericans, Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all carved jewelry, often with animals and beetles, and wore them as amulets. In China, jade was popular for carving.
In our search for the best inventory for Vienna Jewelry on Maple Avenue, we see the carvings show up frequently in cameos and brooches, in typical cameo (like this Dionysus in coral) and animal motifs (like this crane). But if you don’t like brooches, you can still wear these beauties, by adding a chain and making a pendant. You might even affix it to a hair clip. Pawn shops in Northern Virginia are excellent places to seek carved brooches, because they scour estate and vintage lots for unique items.
Historically, cameos were hand-carved and referred only to engravings that featured color contrast between the relief image and the background; today, the word is much more broadly applied and refers to monochromatic designs, as well as items that simply have a cameo look. Many newer carved designs are made by ultrasonic machines, and not by hand. Nonetheless, the sight of a relief image carved in gem material still elicits Edwardian and Victorian images, and continues to evoke history in the modern day.