Gretel and her late grandmother, Carolyn Grele, who is wearing the cameo, now stolen, that both of them loved so much.

By Len Lear

Gretel Carolyn DeRuiter’s West Mt. Airy home was broken into on New Year’s Eve, and one of the pieces of jewelry that were stolen was the cameo her grandmother, Carolyn Grele, was wearing in the picture accompanying this article. (Gretel was named after her grandmother.)

The cameo is of Gretel’s face as a little girl, and it was made in the 1960s by an Italian jeweler for her father in the likeness of a photo (also pictured here) that he carried of her on one of his Navy cruises in the Mediterranean. Gretel’s grandmother treasured it and wore it often.

“I was her first grandchild,” said Gretel, “and my middle name is her first name. When she died, the cameo came into my possession. I can’t imagine the thief would get much for it, but it is priceless to me as it symbolized the loving relationship I had with this dear woman. I want to believe that I will be reunited with it one day.

This is the photo of Gretel as a child that was used by a jeweler in Italy to create a cameo in her likeness.

“What is impossible to express is the bond my grandmother and I shared. She was the kindest woman I have ever known and loved me unconditionally from the moment I was born. She loved being a grandmother! I kept the cameo near my bedside because it made me feel close to her. Thinking of some random stranger just scooping it into a pillowcase and crawling out of my bedroom window with it sickens me.”

Gretel did file a police report and is working with Northwest Detectives to try to track it down. The number of the police report is 18-14-00053. A Detective Hughes has been assigned to the case. Also, George Hobe, of Hobe Antiques in Chestnut Hill is helping her do some networking.

If you have any information about the cameo, please call Detective Hughes at 215-686-3353 or email A $1,000 reward is being offered for the safe return of the cameo.