Cameo Jewelry and History of Cameos

Mark A. Carlson


Let us take a look at the art and abundant background of cameos from historical times right until now. 

A cameo is an intricately gemstone or other normal product carved in a elevated relief that attributes, most notably, portraits of women’s or adult males profiles, landscapes or mythological figures. These hand-carved, in-depth reliefs are normally established in gold or silver adorning parts of jewelry these as necklaces, bracelets, pendants and rings. Their significance and intriguing, expansive background has made them a well-known merchandise amongst collectors.

Cameos Early Times

Frequently in ancient periods cameos depicted living heroes, rulers and mythological themes whilst paying homage to their respective gods and connecting cultures via trade like Rome, Greece and Egypt. In the hundreds of years that adopted, cameos have been employed for a variety of reasons and decorated with a variety of carvings, cherished stones and metals. 

Of the earliest varieties of cameo, lots of can be traced back to prehistoric petroglyphs depicting spiritual figures and mythological photographs onto rocks. With the increase of the Roman Empire, cameo craftsmen expanded upon their works by using and portrayed political portraits into their artwork. Cameo carving drastically progressed all through the Renaissance and Elizabethan periods when elite girls wore cameos to showcase their cultural standing. 

Royal cameo collectors Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen Victoria impressed the selection and distribution of cameos in the 19th century. On her widowhood, Queen Victoria commissioned a series of bejeweled cameos in onyx with a double portrait of her and her late husband to give to associates of the Royal Get of Victoria and Albert.

 Antique Gold Pearl Cameo Earrings & Broochantique-gold-cameo-earrings-brooch

Napoleon greatly admired the beautiful workmanship in these miniature carvings which dated again to Greco-Roman periods and saw how they may possibly serve as emblems of France’s new republic, linking it to Roman grandeur. He had arrive across the artwork form on a campaign in Italy as a youthful normal. Returning as a triumphant war hero to Paris, he introduced a massive selection of cameos with him, alongside with many of the most gifted cameo makers, whom he had captured in Sicily. Napoleon proven a university in Paris staffing it with these abducted Sicilians who properly trained younger Frenchmen in the glyphic art. For the first component of the 19th century, these artisans rivaled in output and excellence their Italian peers, producing some of the most innovative examples to be located.

For his design-environment spouse Josephine and his sisters, Napoleon experienced these carved medallions mounted as jewellery and for his installment as emperor, he requested gold crowns for himself and Josephine established with cameos and commissioned furnishings embellished with them. 

Antique Gold Enamel Big Stone Cameo Brooch


With the popularization of costume jewellery in the 20th century, the turn towards wearable cameos only rose. Later all over again, as with numerous classic models that surge in a additional modern method, cameos created a comeback. Established designers additional the timeless common to the latest collections and catalogs in the variety of present-day cameo brooches, pendants, necklaces, cameo earrings and extra. Cameo jewellery is surely a timeless trend conveniently transcending eras and stays desirable to quite a few designers who keep on to reinvent its area in style.

How to Authenticate Cameo Jewelry 

Real, authentic cameos are designed from normal material and gemstones this sort of as: onyx, sardonyx, agate, ivory, coral and lava. In distinction, fake, mass-made cameos arrive in the sort of plastic, resin or glass. Even though keeping the cameo up to a light-weight, if you can see by way of it and have a superior glimpse of the define of the design, it’s likely genuine and created from shell for illustration. Plastic variations are not as transparent.

Antique Gold Cameo Earrings & Pendant

When seeking closely at the carvings, verify for markings like nicks from carving tools or indentations which very likely suggest it is genuine and that normal components were being utilized. Smoothness does not necessarily suggest it’s genuine as inauthentic cameos are pretty sleek and have no flaps. With a light tap versus a really hard surface area, if it has a much more sound seem, it’s probably manufactured from all-natural resources. If the cameo sounds hollow, this is probably a plastic faux. Competent cameo craftsmen took pride in their craft paying close interest to factors like the texture of the hair and features like extra jewellery and flowers, small facts. You can also explain to substantially about the validity of a cameo by analyzing the deal with. Quite a few antique cameo faces appear to the suitable but, to be aware, a lot of bogus variations have the similar or very identical faces. 

The value of cameo jewellery differs appreciably depending on the ailment, intricacy of the content applied, carving, and age of the piece. A significant-good quality, a person-of-a-type cameo could price upwards of $10,000 or extra. Faux cameos can be pretty economical. As constantly, if you are doubtful it is finest to check with a dependable antique jewelry seller to examine your cameo even further.  

The want to don cameos grew with the popularization of jewelry in the 20th century. Cameo artistry and jewellery carries on to seem in modern western manner industry widely. 

Antique Gold Carved Amethyst Cameo Cufflinks

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