I have collected quite a few Cameo pendants. I was curious about the cameos, I did not know much about them, but I always loved to look at them. I found that a cameo is a method of carving an object such as a semi-precious gemstones, like onyx agate and others stones with a flat plane. In cheaper modern work, shells and glass are most common. Cameos go back many years, as far back as 25 BC and 50/60 AD. The earliest shell cameos were carved in the 15th and 16th centuries. Before that time, cameos were carved from hard stone.

Cameos are absolutely beautiful. Portraits of rulers and royalty were intricately carved by skilled artists. The majority of modern agate cameos are carved with the aid of the ultrasonic mill. This is a process where multiple copies of a master design can be produced very quickly by pressing a mater die into the agate cameo blank.

Cameos carved by hand are usually copied from photographs. There are very few people working in this field , because it is one of the hardest challenges for any gemstone carver. The combination of a highly developed artistic ability, craft skill and many years of experience are needed to be able to to create life like portraits, The world center for cameo carving shell is Torre Del Greco, Italy. The final cameo is usually made with two contrasting colors. One cameo I have is a ivory color on a brown colored shell surrounded by sterling silver. The other cameo is set on blue porcelain by Limoges, and the last cameo is made of plastic white on brown background. I believe the antique sterling cameo I have is hand carved, where as the other ones I'm showing are not. They are quite lovely.

Sandra Compton
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