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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Victorian 9ct gold cameo brooch, carved with an oval portrait of a lady, surrounded by gold flower and leaf border, height 4.8 cm

9ct yellow gold, cameo brooch, weight: 9.8 grams, size: four by three cm

Vintage cameo brooch, size: four by three cm

A large Art Nouveau shell cameo brooch, sterling silver framed, the large oval shell cameo beautifully carved with the depiction of a maiden with Bacchanalian inspired headdress, signed to reverse, framed by a wheat sheath frame of silver, fitted with pin

A Grecian Inspired shell cameo brooch, 14ct yellow gold, made as an antique oval shell cameo, depicting a Grecian themed scene with Acropolis and maiden, bezel set and further framed by decorate gold work, fitted with pin to reverse

A cameo brooch, 18ct yellow gold, early 20th century, presented as an oval shell cameo of large size, depicting a young woman in profile, bezel set in an open backed mount, stepping to a disc shaped gold surround with applied rope twist work, fitted with p

An antique Australian cameo brooch, the shell cameo, mounted in an elaborate frame with grape vine and leaf decoration centred with a bow, mounted in 15ct gold, circa 1870.

A Victorian cameo brooch/pendant, the oval helmet shell cameo depicting a maiden and bird. Applied wirework decoration to surround. 18ct yellow gold. Weight 13.45 grams. Length with pendant attachment 6.7 cm. Boxed

A Victorian lava cameo brooch, depicting a maiden with bird and goblet in high relief within an oval frame with applied detail. 18ct yellow gold. Weight 78.41 grams. Length 7.5 cm. Width 6.5 cm

An antique gold shell cameo brooch, featuring a finely carved portrait of a Roman Centurion in Australian 15ct gold frame hallmarked with star, 15, fleece, and S.K, with safety chain, size 37 x 45mm.

Good antique large carved shell cameo brooch, with 9ct rose gold surround, size:, 6 cm by 5 cm.

Antique carved shell cameo brooch, in yellow 9ct gold frame. Well carved Romanesque head of a lady. 4 cm high.

Large cameo pendant/brooch with gold surround, marked 14K Siffari, size:, 6 cm by 4 cm including bale

Large antique carved shell cameo brooch, in decorative gold frame (tests as 9ct). Total height 5 cm, total weight 14gms

Victorian 9ct gold portrait cameo brooch classical portrait in ornate leaf bead and scroll frame with pair Victorian target earrings with cameo original display box

9ct framed portrait cameo brooch carved with the Three Graces

Victorian gold portrait cameo brooch carved in high relief with portrait of Tudor lady

An antique agate cameo brooch/pendant, 15ct yellow gold with a high carat wash, Victorian, presented as a round target style brooch, set centrally with a solid piece of agate, carved with a woman's profile, finely detailed to hair, the carving framed b

A shell cameo brooch, depicting a lady profile, set in sterling silver. Length 4 cm. Weight 7.6g.

A Volcanite cameo brooch, depicting a lady, set in 9 carat rose gold. Diameter 2.7 cm.

A shell cameo brooch, depicting a ladies' profile, set in sterling silver. Weight 10g.

A gold mounted large cameo brooch, the shell depicting a Greek scene, oval shaped inset in a 9 carat rose gold rim, in original case. Total weight 37.8g

A shell cameo brooch, bezel set mount;14ct gold. Weight 7.2g.

A shell cameo brooch, depicting a religious character, in 9 carat yellow gold frame. Weight 30.7g.

A shell cameo brooch, in 18ct gold frame. Weight 11g.

A shell cameo brooch, depicting a ladies' profile, set in 9 carat gold, safety pin. Total weight 8.6g.

A shell cameo brooch, with 9 carat rose gold frame and safety pin. Length 4 cm. Weight 13.6g

A shell cameo brooch, depicting a lady, all set in 9 carat gold, safety pin. Weight 14g. 5.3 x 4.7 cm

A shell cameo, set in silver, depicting Beatrice Cenci. Length 5.5 cm

A shell cameo bar brooch, set in 9 carat yellow gold, with safety chain. Length 5 cm. Weight 4.1g

A shell cameo brooch, set in 9 carat yellow gold (tested). Length 4.4 cm. (hair line in cameo)

An antique 9ct rose gold cameo brooch, one oval shell pendant, whit pink in colour mounted in a rose gold frame

An antique cameo brooch, the oval helmet shell depicting an angel. 15ct yellow gold. Weight 20.44 grams. Length 7 cm. Width 6 cm.

A cameo brooch, the oval helmet shell cameo with carved female profile. 9ct rose gold. Weight 9.34 grams. Length 44mm.

Vintage cameo brooch, with rolled gold surround, size:4 cm by 3 cm

An antique cameo brooch, the pink conch shell cameo finely carved with a portrait of a maiden, mounted in an open work frame highlighted with natural pearls, mounted in gold.

An Australian gold mounted shell cameo brooch by Larard Brothers, Melbourne, circa 1900, carved with a classical maiden wearing a string of pearls, 15 carat yellow gold