One of my most vivid memories from childhood is playing with my parents’ jewelry. They each had a jewelry box that held a treasure trove of riches, mementos of a time (pre-child and pre-suburbia), when they lived in Manhattan, danced at the Copacabana, and bombed around the city in a 1956 Thunderbird convertible.
My mother’s ropes of pearls and dangly jet earrings were the definition of glamour itself. But, my father’s vast cufflink collection (for his bespoke, French cuff shirts) was a close rival. And, my favorite pair? Sleek, black onyx intaglio images of horses.
But, what is intaglio, exactly?
In printmaking, intaglio is the process by which an image is created by cutting, carving or engraving into a flat surface. In jewelry making, the technique is the same, only the medium is gemstone.
Although intaglios have been created from carved stone for thousands of years (earliest examples date from 5000 BC), the look reached its zenith during Victorian times. Cameos (carved shell) and glass intaglios became more affordable due to improved and automated production methods. Suddenly, these exquisite pieces were not only available for the ultra wealthy.
And, according to Extasia (purveyors of fine jewelry), “Queen Victoria may also get the lion’s share of credit… she had a series of charms designed and produced to give as gifts to her extended family and circle of friends every New Year.”
This year, intaglios are back in a big way. From Sevan Biçakçi, to Elizabeth Locke, some truly gorgeous designs are available. But, if you aren’t willing to sell your car to buy a new bauble, I’ve found some “steals” that will give you the same, high-end look at a fraction of the price.
Now, if I could just find my dad’s old cufflinks…
Your guide to a life filled with STYLE! Susan Conforte McNeill is a wife, mother, author, entrepreneur, Harper’s BAZAAR Style Ambassador and Cover Girl Ambassador. Susan Said…WHAT?! was named one of the Top 50 Beauty Blogs in the World by RebateZone.com in 2015. Susan is also the co-founder of the literacy organization Success Won’t Wait! Read more about her in Family Circle Magazine.