There she is, tucked away in someones jewel box.
Trapped in the dark satin lining. Wasting away, dying to break free, until one day she sees the light and her keeper has the perfect occasion.
She lives again and is now the star of the show.
She began as a shell, washing upon the shores. Picked up by ancient Greeks and Romans.
Who were they imagining? Was it their fantasy girl, their Mom, sister, wife? How did they come upon this craft of carving beautiful ladies portraits into a seashell?
This tradition still lives on. Broaches, rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets are intricately created by generations of Italian carvers using a bullino, a little carving tool or small drill introduced hundreds of years ago.
There he sits, the artist, hunched over his muse, slowly carving away until a pearl necklace or the wave of her hair appears.
Perched on a chair, next to the window, taking advantage of the strong Italian sun beaming through the window, he carves.
Perhaps, this shows off her best features, in her natural light, much like the beautiful model being photographed in the studio with the strategically placed spotlights.
Hold her up to the light and see her beauty radiate from within. Fragile in their make-up, yet strong enough to stand the test of time.
Like many women I know.
Whether old or new, they offer us timeless beauty. Even Napoleon wore one to his wedding and founded a school in Paris that taught cameo carving.
Who do we think of when we wear these gems? A great Italian Matriarch who watched over her large family, an ancient mythological goddess, a biblical character, or is it just a tribute to all the women who have come before us?
My mom has one that will become mine… someday.
Though the portrait is not an exact replica, the eyes and soul will speak to me.
The rings are my own. One a delicate, hand carved antique acquired at the Mercato di San Lorenzo in Florence Italy; the other a chunky, more modern, machine carved version that is set in marcasite.
I wear them proudly for different reasons. To represent the beauty of women in general.
Perhaps each ring represents all of me.
The antique, being who I was and where I came from and the modern, who I will become and where I am going.
Perhaps the newer ring, will become someone else's antique lady in waiting, tucked away in the satin lined jewel box.
Until one day she makes her own cameo appearance, she sees the light and life begins again.
Photo: antique and new cameo rings from my jewel box, sharing an oyster shell.