Cameo Jewellery , Antique Cameos and Vintage Cameos, cameo brooches and cameo rings. Most of these cameos are hand carved from shell and then set into a metal frame ( silver or gold). Some cameos are made from pottery such as Wedgwood cameos and some carved from coral, lava and some moulded in glass. However they are made cameos have a picture in high relief in from the background. Cameos are highly collectable pieces of vintage jewellery
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What is a cameo? Its a piece where the design stands proud of the background. Normally a cameos features a figure or figures. Perhaps a ladies head or a classical scene. I saw a cameo recently which simply featured a horses head. A cameo is a work of art in miniature which is meant to be worn.
A cameo can be distinguished from an intaglio which is where there design is carved into the back of the piece and then viewed from the front. Cameo carving began in ancient times however very few of the cameos we come across today date from before the Victorian era and they are still being made today. And not all cameos are carved - Some ( Like those made by Wedgwood and those made of Gutta Percha or plastics or glass) are molded.
Here is a little look at the materials that cameos are made from:
1. Shell Cameos. This is what most of the cameos we see are made of. This usually has a brown /buff background with the cameo standing proud in a paler colour. Different shells such as that of the Queen Conch give a different colour with the conch being with with pinky tones. Most of these are carved in Italy
2. Lava Cameos Carved from the Volcano mount Vesuvius in Italy. This is quite soft and easily carved giving a lot of detail to the cameo. The colour range from black, grey, though muddy brown and greenish colours to a paler cream.
3. Coral cameos Coral is a hard substance which is not easy to carve and so these are relatively rare but when done well have a lively pinky colour and a high shine. Be warned imitation coral in plastic does exist. A coral cameo with have a much colder feel than a plastic one.
4. Jasper pottery cameos A speciality of Wedgwood although they were also made by other Staffordshire potteries. These were set into all types of jewellery - cameo earrings, cameo ring and cameo brooches. The most popular colour is white on blue but a whole variation exists.
5. Glass cameo These are often created in one piece in a mould - they look like cameos but have a much greater degree of mass production than hand carved cameos. Milk glass cameos can be very attractive.
6. Hardstone cameos Made of different types of hardstone - agate and chalcedony being popular. This can give a good range of colour to the cameo as some of the hardstones have different colour layers within them.
7.Victorian Black cameos. Cameos as mourning Jewellery made from Whitby Jet, Gutta percha, French Jet ( black Glass) and bog oak
Comming here soon - more on Cameos - a look at the different subjects available. In the mean time - have you a special cameo made from a substance not mentioned here