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...