A late 19th century opal cameo pendant and necklace

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Lot 5
A late 19th century opal cameo pendant and necklace

US$ 9,000 - 12,000
£ 7,100 - 9,500

Fine Jewellery

13 Oct 2015, 13:00 EDT

New York

A late 19th century opal cameo pendant and necklace
carved from a single piece of opal matrix, depicting the bust of Hermes, with gold detail, suspended from a fancy link chain; attributed to Wilhelm Schmidt; mounted in gold; pendant length: 2in.; chain length: 30in.

Footnotes

  • Wilhelm Schmidt (1845-1938) invented the new process of cutting opal cameos, utilizing the matrix of rough opal for the ground. Carving opal is a hazardous due the fluctuation in temperature conditions. His first example was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition in 1878.

    Schmidt was born in Idar Oberstein, the European center of the mineral, gemstone and lapidary trades and went to Paris when he was 15 to apprentice with the cameo-cutter, Arsene. He eventually settled in London where he carved cameos for many of the best jewelry firms, including John Brogden, Guiliano and Child & Child, and attracted several prestigious patrons including the Museum of Practical Geology.

    Schmidt never signed his work and the cameos he produced for jewelry shops and dealers were never credited to him. Examples, attributed by Seidmann, are in the collections of the Natural History Museum, London, the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. This opal cameo pendant offered here is a superlative example of the difficult art of cameo carving.

    Literature:
    Seidmann, Gertrud. 1988. Wilhelm Schmidt: The Last Neo-Classical Gem-Engraver. London: Source Title: Apollo CXXVIII No. 317 (July-1988). For the information given here on Schmidt and his cameos.
    Illustrated Catalogue of Gems, Cameos & Amber Collected by A. Booth, Gloucester, published before 1923.
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