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For jeweller Amedeo Scognamiglio, cameos are anything but staid. The designer’s aesthetic might be steeped in the history of this beautiful technique, as he grew up in Torre del Greco, Italy, which is renowned as the centre of the cameo-making world. But with his own designs, Amedeo brings a very modern, idiosyncratic eye to this traditional craft.
The jeweller’s cameos spotlight images of menacing skulls, fierce dragons, wise monkeys, cute French bulldogs, and sinister snakes. Even pieces that at first glance appear traditional have an edge to them, such as a ring that’s carved with an image of a sweet angel, which opens to reveal it’s fashioned as a poison ring. Also among his designs are drop earrings formed from coiled, intertwined snakes, monkey-shaped pendants, and mystical, unicorn cameos.
Amedeo learnt the art of delicately carving cameos – which are hewn from coral and shells – from his mother, while his father presided over the M+M Scognamiglio jewellery house, which specialises in cameos. But keen to establish his own identity in the jewellery world, Amedeo decamped to New York in his twenties. After debuting the Faraone Mennella jewellery collection with his design partner Roberto Faraone Mennella, in 2006 he set up his own house, Amedeo.
Since then, stylish women including Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and Rihanna have worn Amedeo’s finely-detailed designs, no doubt drawn to the fusion of tradition and modernity in his collections. “Cameos are, and remain, sentimental pieces of jewelry because they carry an image,” Amedeo tells Italian Vogue, adding that “today, it is not necessarily nostalgic. I belong to the sixth generation of a family that has kept this tradition alive for over 200 years, so I felt the urge to take this wonderful artistic heritage and make it more modern.”
With his collection still crafted in his home town of Torre del Greco – but with motifs that convey a very New York state of mind – Amedeo designs cameos fit for the 21st Century.