A handcrafted jewel symbol of the excellence of made in Italy. An ancient splendor that is rediscovered all over the world. The ancient art of cameo returns to the limelight of the most famous international red carpets and conquers the most renowned tourist locations: from Hollywood stars to royal stages, up to Italian celebrities, the cameo starts from the goldsmith tradition of Torre del Greco to reach all over the world creating the perfect combination between ancient and modern.
A long story that starts from the ancient Romans who sculpted precious stones to represent war scenes and that reaches the present day with a precise thread: the skilful craftsmanship of the master engravers who make a jewel entirely by hand starting from a simple shell. This jewel enjoyed periods of splendor in the Renaissance, in the Elizabethan age and also in the Napoleonic period both in England (as also shown in the famous TV series Bridgerton), and in France with the transalpine emperor who donated the famous tiara to his wife Giuseppina. of cameos, now jewel of the Swedish crown and worn by Princess Victoria at her royal wedding.
From Rihanna to Cate Blanchett, here are the VIPs crazy about the cameo
A charm that has arrived intact to the present day and has not left the international stars indifferent: the singer Rihanna has in fact created her own collection of cameos consisting of rings, earrings and pendants, reinterpreting the precious classic and declining it with particular attention to inclusiveness. female.
From the informal occasion, to aperitifs on the beach up to gala evenings: celebrities wearing cameos alternate on the red carpets. From the young Demi Lovato to Cate Blanchett (who wore the jewels produced by Cameo Italiano for Liz Swig’s Lizworks project on the Venice red carpet), Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Demi Moore, Gigi Hadid, Claudia Gerini and Caterina Balivo: these are just some of the stars who have let themselves be fascinated by handcrafted creations wearing earrings, bracelets and pendants on special occasions. A trend that, as often happens, has already infected social media in a short time, where the hashtag #cameojewelry is the protagonist of almost 30 thousand posts, dedicated to the excellence of Made in Italy jewelery and also the fashion influencer with 5 million followers Alexa Chung got herself immortalized with a cameo on a pendant.
Just Rihanna has shown herself several times in public showing off cameos in combination with a youthful look, wearing a cameo as a brooch on the cuff of her jeans and on her knitted hat. “We have made a long journey of research to make the cameo current and we were pioneers in the conception of this “prêt-à-porter” jewel, thus clearing it of the concept that it was only for queens and ladies – says Gino Di Luca, founder of Cameo Italiano, a leading company specializing in the creation of cameos -. We have created permanent collections but we also have lines in constant renewal where we offer a more modern and young style where the cameo can be worn as an accessory in everyday clothing, even with a simple t-shirt and jeans.“.
A bit of history
A jewel capable of tracing centuries of history and reaching the present day, still giving a vintage, romantic and feminine atmosphere: “Surely there are several factors that contribute to the rediscovery of this jewel – explains Bianca Cappello, historian and critic of jewelery and professor of History of Applied Arts at the IED in Milan -. Today wearing a cameo is part of the contemporary mix-and-match aesthetic in which the combination of elements from various styles and various eras reveals the creative ability and taste of the wearer. Having the cameo with an ancient material and technical history, those who decide to wear it today demonstrate that they have made a conscious choice linked to the craftsmanship and cultural roots of a territory“.
Each jewel represents a new work of art: carving a cameo is a meticulous work that requires great attention and high manual skills, skills jealously guarded by the master engravers of Torre del Greco. “In a world of mass-produced, new cameos offer an innovative and seductive take on a classic art form. Rooted in art history, the cameo sits confidently in the contemporary artistic canon, where generations of artists continue to explore and expand its rich narrative potential. Even today, no jewel releases art, history, beauty and power like the cameo”, Says Cristina Del Mare, ethnologist and applied arts scholar in the publication Multum in Parvo where the story of the cameo is told.
A jewel that symbolizes the Italian artisan tradition and the exceptional dexterity of the master engravers of Torre del Greco, a town in Campania where the art of shell cameo processing spread in 1800.
In that period, in fact, the ships returning to the Gulf of Naples from the African coasts loaded large quantities of shells as ballast to weigh down the boats and make the return crossing easier. With all that raw material in port, it did not take long for the local inhabitants to understand how to enhance it: right from that moment the art of shell engraving and the long tradition of the master engravers of Torre del Greco developed.
Today we are talking about a business of about 300 companies that employ about 2000 people. “Cameo Italiano remains the reference brand of this market niche and we are witnessing a strong international demand for our creations, especially in the East within the thriving Chinese, Japanese and Korean markets: a clear sign of the growing appreciation of this jewel in Worldwide – Di Luca explains -. We can find two interpretations of this success: on the one hand the great dexterity required to engrave these handcrafted creations is exalted while, on the other hand, people are rediscovering the classicism of these jewels in a modern and current key.“.
A constant search for innovation and design that is carried out while remaining in the classicism of the jewel and in the hand-working technique. “The beauty and expressive power of a cameo with the profile or body of a woman engraved does not depend on the subject but on the artistic and artisan quality of the hand that made it – concludes the expert Bianca Cappello -. Anyone who decides to wear a cameo revisited in a modern key, in dimensions never seen before or with new trendy subjects or made to measure or witty, proves to have a strong, curious character and love the possibility of surprising others with a new and personal point of sight. Inserting a new image into an antique-style cameo creates a destabilization based on the playful effect of a false historical artefact, thus stimulating the effect of surprise and fun.“.