Hi, there! Read on to see how you could be the lucky winner of a Signature cameo from Rio!
It so often seems to me that the line between “art” (what I see in my mind’s eye when I hear the word, anyway) and “Jewelry” is the most fuzzy when I think of cameos. Here, I’m looking at a piece of original carving or a carving taken from a painting or sculpture, yet it is wearable; I can put it around my neck or on my finger or pin it onto my fashion-passionate grandma’s favorite jacket. And since the 60s, a few stone-carvers have been going out of their way to break the mold of the “expected” cameo, using new carving techniques, choosing unusual subjects to represent and applying color in new and exciting ways.
In a new line of Signature cameos, many of these designs are available to me — and, honestly, I’m having a tough time choosing among them. These cameos feature the late-19th century Art Nouveau work of Alphonse Mucha and the mid-20th century carving innovations of Erwin Pauly. These pieces are gorgeous!
We’re even giving one away to one of you lucky readers (see details at the end of this post) but, sadly, I can’t qualify for that contest; I have to make a choice here.
Look how the subtle shading on the red agate gives the hair such rich tones and highlights!
And here’s another:
It’s not just the amazing details that are captured in the stone, I also love the unusual shaping and the way the hair defies the confines of the round border.
And they aren’t all profiles, either. Above are two of the Pauly Zodiac collection, “Aquarius,” my sign, and “Pisces.” The cameo above, on the right, is one I’d like to give to each of my daughters. Not having a sister of my own, this carving on its green background just speaks to me of the joy of being and having a sister, a best friend, a confidante.
Dating back as far as the 3rd century, BC, when they were used as signet rings, cameos have evolved through centuries of civilization — sometimes strictly as pieces of art, sometimes as hollowware, sometimes as jewelry. Their history is as colorful and varied as the skill and artistry evident in every piece.
The Mucha Signature line (with the artist’s signature on the back) draws on Alphonse Mucha’s artwork, work that gave birth to the Art Nouveau movement at the end of the 19th century. Working part-time in Paris as a printer’s proofer and illustrator, Mucha found himself in the right place at an opportune moment. While correcting proofs, a last-minute order came in for a poster announcing the opening of Gismonda, a play starring renowned actress Sarah Bernhardt. On New Year’s Day, 1895, lithograph posters advertising the play appeared on the streets of Paris and became an overnight sensation, launching both the Art Nouveau style (initially called the Mucha Style) and the career of its artist.
The Pauly Signature line (also with the artist’s signature on the back) features the stone-carving innovations of Erwin Pauly, who grew up in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, where the tradition of engraving gemstones goes back more than 150 years. A kind of rebel against the traditional style of engraving, he sought to capture new views and perspectives.
Pauly believed that the cameo needed to evolve, and he developed techniques that created an impression of color, structure, and shadow. Then, he produced his revolutionary “Free Form Cameos” that departed from traditional shapes, adopting forms that enhanced his subject matter. This new style inspired designers, goldsmiths, and jewelers to create spectacular settings for these diminutive works of art.
Would you like to see more? The complete collection of Signature cameos can be found on RioGrande.com. And, here’s the best part: Today, we’re giving away this 30 x 22mm “Amethyst” cameo from the Mucha Signature line!
Here’s how you can win: Add a comment to this post, that tells us your most compelling cameo story, or tell us why you should be the one to win, or describe what you’re planning to do with this cameo. A winner will be selected from among the comments and announced on October 1, 2012.