Thursday, June 4, 2015

Timeless Fashion: The Cameo

When one thinks of jewelry that never goes out of style, you don’t have to look much further than the cameo. Dating back to Alexandria, Egypt in the 3rd Century BCE, the cameo's first carved reliefs were of important figures or those in mythological or biblical scenes.

Their popularity was rejuvenated in 5th Century Florence, Italy when the Medici family brought it back into fashion.  Even Napoleon took a shine to then and created a school in France for cameo carvers. 

By the time Victorian ladies wore them, the face of the cameos had changed as they wanted reliefs of women with more slender necks and pieces of jewelry adorned with diamonds that could be worn in various pieces such as hair combs.
There’s something classically beautiful about them and I even wrote a scene about one in my novel, HIS BROTHER’S WIFE. Grace, the heroine of the story, sells a very special cameo made from mother of pearl, to the town’s mercantile owner.  Read an excerpt of the scene below.

Grace set her reticule on the counter and reached inside, pulling the note she’d written her list on. She handed it to Mrs. Jenkins before venturing to the back of the store to look through the dresses. Nearly a half hour had gone by when Jesse came into the store. Grace was still looking at dresses when he stopped beside of her. “Have I been long?” she asked.
“No. I just got bored.”
“Oh. Well, I think Mrs. Jenkins may have the food stuff I wanted packed.”
Jesse looked at the dresses Grace had draped across her arm. “You ain't getting those, are ya?”
Grace looked at the dresses. They were plain, in flowered prints, Calico the sign said, but they were practical. She smiled and said, “Yes. Don’t you like them?”
“They’re all right. Your fancy ones are better though. Those will make you look like every other woman in town and you ain't. You’re purtier than all of ‘em put together.”
He blushed after giving her the compliment and turned without another word. Grace smiled and walked across the store to the counter. “Hello again," she said in greeting to Mrs. Jenkins. She set the things in her hand down. "I'd like to get these as well but I don’t like putting my personal purchases on the Samuels’ account. Would you be willing to trade?”
Mrs. Jenkins eyed Grace’s hat. “Depends.”
Grace smiled. “I have some very fine pieces of jewelry I would be willing to barter.”
Mrs. Jenkins tilted her head as if thinking. “We could use some nice stuff. The men folk are always looking for baubles to buy their wives.”
Grace would have to look through her jewelry when she got back to the ranch. She had no use for it now. There was no one to impress in Willow Creek, after all.
Seeing Mrs. Jenkins looking at her hat gave her another thought. “I have more than a few dresses I would be willing to trade as well. With hats to match, of course.”
The smile Mrs. Jenkins threw her would have brightened the room in the dead of night. “How many dresses?”
“I don’t know. I brought everything I own. I’ll go through them tonight and see what I’m willing to do without. In the meantime, what about these things? What would you take for them?”
Mrs. Jenkins looked Grace over again and smiled as her gaze snagged on the brooch at Grace’s bosom. “How ‘bout that?”
Grace lifted her hand and unpinned the brooch. It was a cameo, a gift from a suitor who had her father’s fortune dancing in his eyes. When he found out the money was gone, so was he.
The brooch was lovely but held no real sentimental value. Laying it on the counter, Grace smiled. “You have an excellent eye, Mrs. Jenkins. This is real mother of pearl and the gold is of very good quality. It would make a very fine piece for one of your customers.”
“It’s expensive then?”
“Oh yes. It was custom made by a jeweler in Boston.”
Mrs. Jenkins’ eyes lit up. She looked over the things Grace had laid on the counter. Four dresses, several pairs of socks and a pair of sturdy work boots. “I can give you all that and some store credit for it.”
Grace smiled. “It’s a trade, then. Thank you.”
“Pleasure was all mine.” Mrs. Jenkins grabbed the dresses, folded them and wrapped them in brown paper, along with the socks. She boxed the boots and placed everything on the counter. “You still going to bring the dresses by?”
“Oh, most certainly,” Grace said.
“Good. I’m sure the ladies in Willow Creek would love to get their hands on some fancy things that didn’t need to be ordered.”
“That would be wonderful. I’ll see what I have and bring them back to town for you.”

Grab your copy of HIS BROTHER'S WIFE, book 5 in the USA TODAY Bestselling Willow Creek Series!

His Brother's Wife
by Lily Graison
Book 5 in the Willow Creek Series
Historical Western Romance
Format: eBook
Length: Novel
Released: May 2013
When Grace Kingston accepts a wedding proposal through a mail-order bride agency and travels across country to be married, she has no idea her bridegroom is a fourteen-year-old boy. There’s no way she can accept his offer but with depleted funds, and winter coming on, Grace has little choice but to stay. Things go from bad to worse when she meets Jesse’s older brother, Rafe. The attraction is immediate. He’s surly, rude and downright pig-headed but he makes her pulse race with a single glance.
Rafe Samuels thought to teach his brother a lesson by making him take responsibility for his rash behavior but one look at Grace and his plans go up in smoke. She isn’t the dowdy spinster he imagined and having her live in his house and not be able to have her is the worst kind of torment. But putting her out of his mind is impossible.
As fall turns to winter, Grace finds that living with the two brothers isn’t as simple a thing as she once thought. Jesse still thinks marriage is in the cards, and Rafe is a devilishly handsome distraction she doesn’t need. She can’t decide if he hates her or wants to kiss her. And how does she avoid breaking Jess’s heart when it becomes clear that the attraction between her and Rafe is mutual?


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About Lily Graison

USA TODAY  bestselling author Lily Graison writes historical western romances and dabbles in contemporary and paranormal romance. First published in 2005, Lily has written over a dozen romance novels that range from sweet to spicy.

She lives in Hickory, North Carolina with her husband, three high-strung Yorkies and more cats than she can count and is mother of two and grandmother of three. On occasion, she can be found at her sewing machine creating 1800’s period clothing or participating in civil war reenactments and area living history events. When not portraying a southern belle, you can find her at a nearby store feeding her obsession for all things resembling office supplies.

To see the dresses Lily has created, visit her Pinterest page.

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  1. Lily, I loved the excerpt. I can see where the story is headed--into a fine romance.
    Too bad we don't barter in modern cities. I think it would be so much fun--and practical. Maybe yard sales are sort of like bartering.
    Cameos are so beautiful. They're classic.
    I wish you every success, Lily. Got your book on my list of must buys.

  2. I love the excerpt, and I love that cameo comb. Thanks.


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