Cameos: portraits from the past

Antique Carved Shell Cameo pin and pendant Set in Rose and image 0

We might have seen them in antique stores, or on our grandmother’s jewellery box, small portraits, usually from a woman on a profile view carved in a white shell and added to a coral oval back, surrounded by many ornamented accents and being a versatile piece that could double as brooch or a pendant.

Most cameos represented women in classical Greek attires or pictorial scenes drawn straight from Greco-roman mythology, Artemis Or Diana on a profile with a crescent moon on her forehead, the three graces prancing delicately like ballerinas and other images are very common in this remarkable piece of jewellery.

This Greco-roman influence gives us an amazing start point for this pieces of jewellery to enter the world of fashion as discoveries in archeological expeditions and the uncovering of many ruins and temples at the beginning of the 19th century sparked a neoclassical wave that influenced painting, music, sculpture, attires and many other forms of art, including jewellery.

The most versatile of the jewellery pieces in my opinion, cameos were not only worn by women, as men would also wear then in the cravats, side pockets or the fold of a coat. Of course cameos for men depicted masculine scenes, like a water bearer almost naked, profiles representing classical heroes from literature like Achilles and roman emperors.

Image result for cameo portrait men

Most men and women from the higher classes would commission their own portraits on a cameo.

Not as common today (sadly) many cameos remain as amazing legacies of intricate design and fashion from the previous century. We can find them in antique shops commonly, but there are still goldsmiths and carvers that will create them, and you can even commission your own portrait.

I hope this small article was informative and spark your curiosity about cameos and vintage jewellery! 


NEVER STOP CREATING! Especially when a themed season in the air.

One of the best things about working in the arts is how creativity and fun always comes with the job. Here at Jewel Envy we love to play and experiment with metal and stone, and sometimes pumpkins.

With Halloween around the corner it’s time to get the decorations out, and what’s more symbolic of the Halloween season than carving pumpkins. OK maybe collecting free candy is better but pumpkin carving will always be a classic past time.

Here we are “working” to help bring the season alive, and very excited about it too. It all stars with a blank pumpkin. Then we “work” out the designs. We have the classic Jack

A witches shelf ready for sale. I mean, who wouldn’t want Unicorn Tears.

And of course we saved the seeds for roasting later. Also why not a little shameless free publicity when the kids show up. They may only be interested in the sugary candy but I know us big kids LOVE glittery eye candy.

Happy Halloween from all of us at Jewel Envy!

Peter van Walraven

New Trends in Jewellery

Whether your taste in jewelry is classic and expensive or trendy and affordable, there’s a lot of new ideas from jewelry experts nowadays.

The trends shifts  from season to season and year to year. I can almost rely on the fact that you have an assortment of jewelry, both fine and costume, that you keep on a tight rotation. But there’s always room for a few new pieces to freshen up your go-to selection.

Among the new trend are the pearls. This trend toward modern ‘cool-girl’ pearls is only getting bigger, you can wear them short or long, only one string or several ones, they can be fine or costume, white or in any other color, just pearls! Big pearl earrings are more trending than ever, do not be scare, you can wear a big display of pearls all at the same time! this Christmas the more you wear the better. 

Pearl Necklaces from The Pearl Source

Vintage pieces are very trendy, be them signed or unsigned. I love the history of these pieces and the exceptional quality in which fine jewelry was made decades ago. A lot of the interest is also driven by the limited availability and the fact that many of these pieces are one of a kind. You can wear your grandmother Bakelite bracelet, they were made in neon colors, go for it, you will feel fabulous!

Bakelite’s bracelets from Pinterest

Hearts are back, in any size, only one or more, even rings with hearts are trendy now, if you wear a chain with hearts and a string of pearls in New Year’s Day you will be the queen of the party!

Color is back, lovely bands full of colors, the rainbow is trendy, I know you remember the bracelet with charms, those gorgeous charms big and colored, the ones with enamel, yes, the apples, the clowns, the cars, go back to your jewellery box and find the one you have since 1990! and wear it!

Tiffany/s Bracelet with charms

Come to us if your treasures are broken, if you need new desings for your old pieces, if you want something new and unique, come to see us and enjoy our display, everything is made thinking of you! you are the only reason we are here, to make you feel fabulous!

Have a nice Sunday!


October Birthstones-Opal and Tourmaline

October’s birthstones are a two of my favourite stones-opal and tourmaline. Interestingly, both of them come in multiple colours. Opals are particularly known for their fire, and are mostly white or black with a variety of flash colours.

Rough opal example (

Finished opal is often, although not always, finished as a cabochon, so not faceted. Opal tends to be soft and brittle, so not always the best everyday option to wear in a ring, but it’s great in earrings or a pendant, or some other jewellery where you’re less likely to knock it into something. It also works well in settings where the edges are more protected from impact as well!

Example of a finished piece of opal jewellery- I love the iridescent flash of this one!

(Taken from wikipedia:

Tourmaline is a bit different. A crystalline boronsilicate, it has various metal ions, including aluminium, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium and potassiu, leading it to have a variety of colours from deep forest green to a vivid pink.

Different colours of tourmaline.

(from wikipedia:

My favourite is a really nice deep green. If I’d remembered, I would have taken some pictures of my favourite personal tourmaline pieces, featuring some beautiful, deep green stones, but sadly, I didn’t. I’ll have to show you some other time! Instead, here’s a cool picture of some watermelon tourmaline, instead. I don’t really go in for pink, but this combination always somehow appeals to me.

Watermelon tourmaline

(from wikipedia:

How about you? Do you like opals or tourmalines? What appeals to you about them? I’m always interested in what people think!

That’s it for me today! Enjoy the beautiful day, and hope to see you in the studio sometime soon!


A collection of interesting settings!

I was perusing my image folder for a class I teach, and I decided I would share some of my favourite interesting settings on here!

Pasha Moezzi

First up we have this wonderful ring by Toronto artist Pasha Moezzi! I love this simple bezel solution to an unusually shaped stone!

Polly Wales

This ring by Polly Wales is a cast in place piece, the stones were put into the wax and then the metal was cast around the stones!

Devon Thom

This crystal nestled inside an 18k gold frame by artist Devon Thom is another great solution to a tricky situation.

Atelier Munsteiner

An absolutely gorgeous ring by Atelier Munsteiner using a very crisp partial bezel and hand cut beryl.

That’s all for now!


52 Weeks of Pendants

For anyone who loves colourful jewellery and an exploration of non traditional materials I encourage you to check out the upcoming exhibition “52 Weeks of Pendants” by Emma Gerard

The exhibition will be held at JJ Studio from October 16th – November 3rd with an opening reception Saturday October 19th from 2-4pm. If you can’t make it there in person, you can always check out all the pieces Emma created over the last year here.

Week 52 by Emma Gerard

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