Posted in Jewelry

by Ruby Lane

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Cameo has traditionally been used to describe genuine stones carved in a raised relief. The term also applies to any material used in jewelry that is in raised relief, including plastics and glass, molded or carved. The result forms a lovely contrast between the foreground and background. The cameo can be fixed onto a ring, hung on a chain and worn as a pendant, or pinned to apparel as a brooch. The sister to the cameo is called an “intaglio”. Traditionally, this applied to engraved naturally occurring gem materials or glass, but is now applied to any material, carved or molded, where the image is recessed below the surface of the material. Cameo designs are often scenes from Greek or Roman mythology or portraits of rulers or dignitaries. The head of a fashionable young lady is a frequent cameo design. Here are some must see cameo and intaglio designs on the jewelry lane.

 

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[mp_image id=”34289″ size=”full” link_type=”custom_url” link=”https://www.rubylane.com/item/458334-J1568/Circa-1900-Museum-Quality-Coral-Cameo” target=”true” caption=”true” align=”left”]

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[mp_image id=”34286″ size=”full” link_type=”custom_url” link=”https://www.rubylane.com/item/1325734-2471cupid/Superb-Georgian-Ring-Amethyst-Cupid-Cameo” target=”true” caption=”true” align=”left”]

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[mp_image id=”34262″ size=”full” link_type=”custom_url” link=”https://www.rubylane.com/item/1025844-Prf-Btl-415/Antique-Austrian-gilded-enameled-bronze-Box78″ target=”true” caption=”true” align=”left”]

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A cameo is commonly shaped in an oval.  An oval-shaped onyx cameo can serve as a center of a piece of fine jewelry of gold or silver surrounded by other gemstones or pearls. The oval is an attractive shape associated with cameos. Thus, the term “cameo” is used to describe any image of a head in an oval frame, such as a photograph. Cameos were made in ancient Greece and Rome. The Greeks put cameos on cups and drinking glasses. Cameos were also made in the Orient a thousand years ago. They were attached to seals and used to sign letters, and they were used as medals to show the rank of important people.

 

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Cameos continued to be made throughout the Middle Ages, but with less frequency. They became popular again during the Renaissance. Shells, as well as precious stones, were used for carving cameos during the Renaissance. Magnificent cameos can also be in high relief using three layers. Cameos are of other hard-stones such as carnelian, jade, crystal, jasper, and malachite. Cameos have even been carved from lava like the bracelet on the right.

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[mp_image id=”34265″ size=”full” link_type=”custom_url” link=”https://www.rubylane.com/item/784332-RL-1402-00343/Victorian-14K-Lava-Cameo-Bracelet-Cherubs” target=”true” caption=”true” align=”left”]

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King George III (1738 – 1820) and his granddaughter Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901) were fond of cameos. They initiated a revival of cameo jewelry. By the second half of the 19th century, cameos were mass-produced. During the Edwardian era (1901 to 1910) upper class and many middle-class women owned cameos. Examples of antique cameos are exhibited in museums and private collections today.

 

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The value of a cameo is determined by its age, size, materials, condition, well defined and lifelike detail of the carving, maker, artist signature, and provenance. Cameos with unusual subjects and unique designs tend to be more valuable.

 

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[mp_image id=”34277″ size=”full” link_type=”custom_url” link=”https://www.rubylane.com/item/784332-RL-1503-00453/Huge-Solid-18K-Opal-Habille-Cameo” target=”true” caption=”true” align=”left”]

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We even have a shop on Ruby Lane that specializes in cameos! “My shop is born out of the love of hand carved shell cameos. I try to bring you only the best of cameos…cameos I myself would have in my collection.They are like potato chips you just cannot just have one.” Jan Campbell, Oakwood, GA, Owner of The Cameo Shop

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We would love to hear from you Write us at blogarticles@rubylane.com

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