This is hands down the rarest cameo we have ever had. The goddess Athena, young and strong, was the protector of Athens and the goddess of wisdom, strategy, and the arts, including the art of war. This amazing shell cameo portrays her in profile in a rare material, cowrie shell, featuring purple and white layers. The goddess is shown in full armor, her long hair spilling out from underneath her decorated, feathered helmet. A sea creature with a bow and arrow and a dog are shown on the helmet as Athena’s attributes, and on her chest, Medusa is visible. The rendering of the sea creature in such incredible detail is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and one can envision the goddess charging into battle with a dramatic siren, crowning her as a symbol of victory, while the dog represents her fidelity and commitment to the arts. Very begrudgingly surrendered out of my personal collection, this piece was likely a Grand Tour souvenir and would make a fantastic addition to any collection.
Materials and Features:
14ct gold, cowrie shell
Circa 1870, Italian
Weight: 16.05 grams
Dimensions: 40mm x 51mm (including bale)
Condition: There is some slight damage to the bottom of the cameo. The cut is fine and detailed and is of very high quality. Minor associated age wear.
Please view and inspect any photos closely. We endeavor to fully disclose all condition information clearly and concisely, however, please note that what qualifies as excellent condition for historical jewelry differs from modern and contemporary pieces; please take the age of the piece into account when examining the piece. Minor age wear is typical and to be expected for antique and vintage jewelry. Unless otherwise stated, gemstones have not been officially graded for color, clarity, or treatment by GIA; any information provided is our own educated, professional assessment.
14ct Pink Cowrie Shell Athena Cameo Brooch/Pendant c. 1870