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As a daughter of antique dealers, Anna Porcu grew up handling cameos. But she wouldn’t wear one as a brooch or pendant. “I needed to make them powerful and wearable in a different way,” she says.
The Italian jewelry artist has created one-of-a-kind bracelets and necklaces that combine 19th and early 20th-century cameos—small-scale raised portraits or scenes, often mythological, carved in materials including shell and agate—with leather for a contemporary look. Her work, featured in sales at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, is part of a wave of contemporary jewelry that is modernizing the form, which has roots in the ancient Mediterranean.
Now, another Italian, Francesca Villa, makes colorful, one-off “Be Yourself” rings, which pair antique and vintage cameos with precious metals, gemstones, and enamel. A recent brooch by Munich-based Hemmerle updates a 19th-century agate Medusa cameo by teaming it with diamonds, aluminum, and white gold.
Other jewelers have drawn on the historic technique to make cameos. Liz Swig, founder of US creative platform LizWorks, collaborated with photographers Cindy Sherman and Catherine Opie on jewelry launched at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Amedeo Scognamiglio, whose family have been cameo carvers in Naples
since the 19th century, has, he says, “reinvented the old iconography” with designs including skulls and monkeys. His contemporary brand Amedeo has turned what was often considered to be “grandma’s jewelry” into something worn by celebrities, including Rihanna.
Photos: Courtesy of Francesca Villa; RFMAS ITALIA; Hemmerle. Maximilianstrasse 14. 80539. Munich. +49 89 24 22 600. hemmerle.com; Royal Collection Trust I © His Majesty King Charles III 2023
Original RESIDE story can be found here: https://www.sothebysrealty.com/reside/face-time
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