Rummaging through your grandmother’s jewellery box has never been more prestigious and important than now. And when you do so, keep a vigilant eye out for cameo jewellery.

They could be tagged as vintage bestsellers or a secret to dressing like the royals; but cameo jewellery is here to stay as an accessory trendlet in 2012. It can either act as a statement piece or be unhealthily romantic for your attire; cameo is a chameleon in disguise.

Our 2012 fashion trend guides don’t stop at the threads, hence why we’re taking a trip down to the accessory town to bring you the latest.

Read the full trend report after the jump.

Cameo jewellery: what is it?

In the Victorian era, cameo carvings were used as intaglio to seal papers and stamp letters. But, for obvious reasons, queens and princesses of the time had to get their fashion inspiration from their surrounding inanimate objects. This gave rise to cameo jewellery, popularised by Queen Elizabeth, as she modelled pendant motifs carved with flowers, trees and mythological Gods. Cameos also pop up regularly throughout history and popular culture references, from Ancient Rome to one of 18th century’s most well known paintings, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, in which artist Édouard Manet made a reference to a cameo locket.

cameo locket manet
A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet.

With time, cameo jewelry found its place amongst other treasured and precious jewellery. The designs remained the same but its worth hiked a million steps. Design wise, what we see today are immaculate carvings of portraits. They’re commonly found in oval shapes with rimmed edges, but as laser technology has shone through, varied shapes, sizes and colours have taken over its monochromatic and uniform past.

Cameo jewellery in 2012

Lanvin’s pre-fall show teamed chunky cameo pieces with extraordinary silhouettes that delved into the futuristic side as well as the romanticism of the collection. The skating skirts and flouncy dresses contrasted with the gushy and whimsical charm of the accessory, proving that the revival of the trend isn’t merely about randomly styling rustic jewellery with new-age clothes. The Edwardian style has come back to acquaint itself with the ‘60s inspired wardrobe of spring 2012.

lanvin cameo accessories
From Lanvin pre-fall 2012.

Another glimpse of cameo jewellery is seen in Miu Miu’s latest spring 2012 campaign. Coincidentally (or even intentionally), the fairytale inspired shoot stars the lead actor from Alice in Wonderland, Mia Wasikowska, in which the ongoing theme of innocence resonates through the bright images. But what really stands out is the clever placement of cameo-style brooches, bracelets and earrings with the ladylike fabrics and prints. Unlike the Victorian times, there’s no forceful tailoring or constricting strictness. The luxe brand has stayed true to its quirky aesthetic by giving a new edge to cameos and diving out of the conventional monochromatic tones with block tones of blue, red and yellow.

miu miu cameo jewelry
From the Miu Miu SS12 campaign.

Cameo jewellery: how to wear it

  • Play around with these; you don’t have to ponder upon the history and art textbooks. The comeback of cameo jewellery in 2012 is less serious. Wear as a brooch around the collar or pin it to your scarf.
  • If you can find small cameo blocks, use them as cufflinks to ease down the formality of a crisp white shirt.
  • Team cameo earrings with romantic silhouettes inspired by the 1960s. Both trends are huge for spring 2012.
  • If you’re digging into your vintage wardrobe, leave the cameo jewellery in the box. Turn the vintage meter down with more modern-style or futuristic jewellery.
  • When buying cameo jewellery, opt for cameo brooches or oversized cameo pendants, rather than traditional earrings.
  • If you have shell cameo pins and brooches, head to an antique jewellery store and ask them to redo the piece on glass or something with a more solid base.
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