If a picture is worth a thousand words then I can only imagine the story pouring out of a hand carved cameo. An artist will thoroughly study the shell – his or her canvas – to find the curves, bumps, nicks and dents that they need to incorporate in their image. Then, much like Michelangelo insisted, they will free the story or object that is captured inside of the shell.
One of the newest additions to the Pierotucci Sardonyx Collection is this enthralling cameo, carved to use the shell at a unique angle – as a diamond shaped cameo exquisitely framed in 18K gold with a top hook to be worn as a pendant or a back clip, so that it doubles as a brooch. The sardonyx seashell is defined by a thick outer layer and a dark brown interior. In fact a finished sardonyx cameo will have a varying shades of brown in the background and a white foreground, closely resembling marble. Sardonyx or what is most commonly known as Helmet shells have been used since the Roman Empire for everything from food to cooking pots, trumpets, and jewelry.
According to Homer and others, he was a son of Tros by Calirrhoë, and a brother of Ilus and Assaracus; being the most beautiful of all mortals, he was carried off by the gods that he might fill the cup of Zeus, and live among the eternal gods. (Hom. Il. xx. 231, &c.; Pind. Ol. 1. 44, xi. in fin.; Apollod. iii. 12. § 2.) The manner in which he was carried away from the earth is likewise differently described; for while Homer mentions the gods in general, later writers state that Zeus himself carried him off, either in his natural shape, or in the form of an eagle, or that he sent his eagle to fetch Ganymedes into heaven. (source)
It appears that the artist of this delicate and unique cameo was inspired by the story of Zeus sending his eagle to carry off the young boy, and carved this image to depicting the fate of Ganymedes, surrounded by a flowing ribbon that frames the cameo within the 18K gold frame.