Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow: The Mythological Messages of Cameos

Many antique cameos are masterpieces of miniature art, but they don’t have to be centuries old to generate demand. Some of the treasures of modern cameo art rival the best sculptural work of ancient artisans and are eagerly sought by collectors. Furthermore, collectors know a secret the jeweler needs to learn: The cameos with the greatest appeal are those with a message, usually one of love. Discerning those messages requires some background in the mythology from which they spring. Love, thy name is Cupid. Romance sells jewelry, and that bromide explains the longstanding popularity of cameos. Over the centuries, unrequited love has led the lovelorn to take desperate measures—appealing for divine assistance, using magic potions, and placing their faith in love charms. The carved messages and images on the cameo are thought to have an especially enchanting effect. The cameo portr

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