Learn about Cameo

Cameos have been carved since antiquity, and a true cameo is a hard stone on which a design is cut in relief. Usually the stone used had a two colour bands, a dark band and a lighter band, and the image was cut into the light band leaving the darker band as background.

These cameos were carved from semi precious stones such as agate, onyx and carnelian.

However this summary is concerned with cameos produced in the 18th and 19th centuries, mostly as brooches, and most of the 19th century cameos are carved from shell.

If the cameo is carved from a semi precious stone, and well described it will usually name the stone or include the word 'hardstone' in the description, and if that word is not present the cameo can assumed to be a shell cameo. Hardstone cameos sell at a premium to a similar shell cameo.

However cameos can be made from other materials including ivory, lava, plastics and glass, and some are made by setting a relief carving to a contrasting background which could be of a different material.

Cameos that are created by a mould rather than carving are considered faux or fake cameos, although they are collectable in their own right as costume jewellery. more...

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These items are not for sale and the descriptions, images and prices are for reference purposes only.

Antique cameo brooch, finely carved shell cameo featuring a female portrait set in silver with pendant bale, 50 x 40mm, (repaired).

A gold shell cameo brooch, oval form with floral border; 14ct gold. Weight 8.5g.

Vintage shell cameo brooch/pendant with 14ct gold surround

9ct rose gold shell cameo brooch/pendant weight: approx 4.6 grams

Vintage 9ct gold, cameo bar brooch weight: approx 5.3 grams

A 14ct gold cameo brooch, carved shell cameo featuring a lady in portrait in a decorative frame with double rope twist border, attached with pendant bale, 54 x 42mm.

A shell cameo brooch with twisted gold border and safety chain; 9ct gold. Weight 7.8g.

A shell cameo brooch, twisted gold rope border, elongated oval cameo; 9ct gold.

Antique 18ct gold hardstone cameo brooch/pendant with pearl trimmed articulated tassel and pearl and red stone set into gold surround (red stone testing suggests garnet). Safety chain hanging from the top ring. Sits in the original blue velvet lined fitted

9ct yellow gold framed cameo brooch. Classical woman in profile. 3.5 x three cm (oval). Wt. 9.6g (total)

An antique cameo brooch, 9ct yellow gold, Victorian, made as a classic oval cameo with central shell cameo depicting a warrior in profile, bezel set within a fancy vine and tendril gold frame, fitted with pin and safety chain

Vintage cameo mounted in a lovely bead set and rope twist brooch. Approx 5 cm x 6.5 cm

A pink shell cameo brooch, featuring a finely carved classical portrait (af) set in approx. 14ct gold frame applied with vine leaves, 47 x 40mm

A 9ct gold cameo brooch, portrait carved shell cameo in a decorative frame attached with a safety chain, 40 x 30mm

An antique cameo brooch, the finely carved oval shell cameo depicting a village scene, mounted in a gold frame with rope twist decoration.

A shell cameo brooch, the shell cameo depicting an outdoor musical scene, mounted in a 15ct gold scrolling frame, total width 73mm.

A Victorian cameo brooch, oval form with leaf border; 9ct gold. Weight 17.4g.

A shell cameo brooch depicting a Roman scene set in a textured 14ct yellow gold mount. Weight 15.4g.

A silver cameo bar brooch three cameos including agate and shell.

14ct yellow gold cameo pendant/brooch approx 5.3 grams, bale drops down when worn as brooch

9ct yellow gold, three graces cameo brooch with leaves and flowers at sides, approx 16.1 grams, 6 cm in length

9ct yellow gold, Roman soldier cameo brooch approx 14.8 grams, 5.5 cm in length

Antique well carved shell cameo brooch with silver surround, in fitted case

A vintage helmet shell cameo brooch, the oval cameo depicting a classical female profile, in a rectangular two tone foliate mount. 9ct yellow and white gold. Weight 15 grams. Length 4.2 cm.

A vintage cameo brooch/pendant, 14ct yellow gold, made as a simple oval shaped shell cameo, circa 1950's, carved to depict a young woman in profile, bezel set with a rope twist detail, fitted to reverse with brooch pin and concealed flexible bail and safet

An antique shell cameo brooch, twisted gold border, bar fitting with leaf design; 9ct gold. Weight 6.4g.

Two shell cameo brooches, one in a 15ct gold mount, the other gold-plated. Weight (15ct brooch) 12.8g.

A cameo brooch, the finely carved shell cameo depicting the three graces, mounted in a pierced foliate frame of tri coloured gold