My Cameo of Pocahontas for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
Gareth has been carving cameos with such precision and grace that they have attracted the attention of several discerning collectors including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II...
Gareth’s Pocahontas Cameo is an exquisite tribute to the 16th Century original that was presented to Pocahontas by King James I and Queen Anne…Diana Jarrett, ‘Cameos Old and New’.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is presented with a Custom made Cameo Brooch Pin by Chief Bill Miles a descendant of the Indian princess. Almost 400 years ago, Queen Anne of England gave a cameo to Pocahontas that was carved with her likeness.
Carving the Cameo of Pocahontas
My first challenge was to match the color of the original Cameo. Most modern cameo stones are treated to create strong colors such as white on red, white on blue etc. I needed an untreated Agate that was the same as the stones the carver could find 500 years ago. I was able to track down a stone in Germany. I had to wait 12 days to receive it and I had very little time to finish the cameo.
My donor wanted natural pearls to encircle the cameo. I found a company that fishes natural freshwater pearls in the Tennessee river. These were shipped over the Atlantic and I selected the best for the Brooch.
I made the setting for the brooch from Platinum. This is a very precious, white jewelry metal. I finished the cameo carving, set this in the brooch, set the pearls and completed the jewel just days before my flight back to Virginia.
Gareth was asked to create this special reproduction of the 16th Century Pocahontas Cameo to honor the Queen’s visit to Jamestown, Virginia. Her Majesty loved the Cameo and was delighted by the story of how the original cameo came to be in America.
The Story of my Cameo for the Queen
I received a phone call in March, 2007. I was asked if I was available for a very special project. I said that I was. Iwas asked to sign a Non Disclosure agreement as secrecy wa so important . I had to promise not to reveal who I was to talk to and what we were going to talk about. The agreement was sent to me and I had to return it signed within 10 minutes.
Within half an hour I was on a conference call with very important people. The Seanator, the Governer of Virginia, The President and the Chief Curator and the head Archaelogist of the Jamestown Settlement Museum in Virgina, USA and of course the anonymous donor who conceived this project.
She was visiting the Jamestown museum. On display was a 400 year old cameo that was given to Pocahontas and was carved with her image. The donor had the idea to create a replica of this cameo brooch and present it to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when she visited the State of Virginia in May.
I agreed to put my other projects on hold to make this cameo brooch for the visit. In a few days I was on a plane heading to America. I was welcomed by the donor who was incredibly generous with her time. She took me around the beautiful State of Virginia. I visited the Jamestown Settlement Museum where I handled the priceless, 400 years old Cameo of Pocahontas.
I studied the carving, took precise measurements, many photographs and was given a plaster cast of the cameo brooch that the museum staff had made. I took advantage of the trip to visit the Natural History Museum in Washington DC. I was able to see the Hope Diamond and many other treasures there. I then flew back to my studio on the farm in Wales, United Kingdom to make the cameo.
The 400 Year Old Cameo Given to Pocahontas
Her husband John Rolfe sailed with it to America. The Cameo pin was stolen in the Civil war. The cameo was levered out of it’s setting with a Bowie knife. You can see the chipped edges of the original cameo.
Many years later the Cameo was found and set in a new brooch. The new owners, the Weisiger family donated the cameo pin to the Jamestown Settlement Museum in Virginia in the 1950’s.
In 2007 I examined the cameo with the help of the curators at the museum. We made a plaster cast which became the model for my carving of the new Pocahontas Cameo that was presented to the Queen.
Royal protocol dictates that I am not allowed to repeat Queen Elizabeth’s exact words. However, I can say that Her Majesty was entranced by my Cameo Jewel. She was intrigued by the story of how the original cameo was given to Pocahontas by Queen Anne and King James I over 400 years ago.
My Cameo of Pocahontas returned with the Queen to England. The cameo is now part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace, London.
Creating an Authentic Portrait of Pocahontas
I selected a natural layered agate as the closest match to the original cameo brooch. I set the hand carved portrait cameo in a Platinum Brooch, accented with fresh- water pearls fished from the Tennessee river.
The original 16th Century Cameo of Pocahontas had been carved in a Classical manner. Her portrait was changed to look less Indian.
With my reproduction I was faithful to the true portrait of Pocahontas. Making the image more authentic was really appreciated by descendants of Pocahontas.
Now in the Queen’s Private Collection
Her Majesty took the Cameo of Pocahontas back to the UK. It is now part of the Queen’s private collection at Buckingham Place.
I heard that the Queen loved her Cameo and spent many hours admiring the carving. Her Majesty was entranced by the story of how a previous King James had given the Cameo to Pocahontas.
If you want to read more about this story. I have 6 blog posts in my Royal Cameo area.
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