A piece of jewelry or objet d’art, some say a miniature masterpiece. Often oval in shape, typically consisting of a portrait or profile carved or sculpted in relief; either in high relief, low relief or a reverse image such as the intaglio, on a background showing layers of different colors. The beauty is in taking off the layers and revealing an image or profile of beauty that has become non-transience.
A certified gemologist can test the stone or material (metal) used then it can be authenticated by a professional, someone who specializes in Antique or Period Jewelry or Art Curator. Begin by looking at details in the Cameo. The carving is of artistry and of a master engraver and/or craftsman. The material used is free of any faults, for example, slips of an engraving tool, or lack of luster of the design and every detail. No cracks (which can happen in carving process) or broken images – although older Cameo(s) as with older jewelry will show sign due to age and wear. The best Cameos are carved from shell, hardstone or other organic materials.
The oldest material used is hardstone. Hence the name, the material is very hard and difficult for carving with materials used in prehistory. Once other gemstones were discovered like the Indian sardonyx, which is a source for onyx was used because of its banded coloring. Lapis lazuli from Persia was a valuable gemstone to the ancient carver. Opals were used beginning in 1874. Quartz was an inviting stone for carvers, especially the variety of amethyst, which was used by Greeks and Romans. Shell was used in 15th and 16th century. Other materials include coral, amber and agate, ivory and turquoise. Cameos are produced in a variety of materials including porcelain, glass and plastic such as Bakelite and more.
Usually this done by looking at the subject matter being carved, the material that is used and if set for jewelry, the type of metal used to determine the manufacturing techniques available at that time. This is mostly if the piece is in its original form with no variations. All these factors are very important as they can tell the story of the piece you are looking to value. They show historic events, mark celebrated social occasions, clothing, hairstyle, mythological allegorical depictions, soldiers, mythological figures or the oriental carving style. Look for a signed piece of work – usually on back of a cameo and/or any hallmarks on the item. If the owner loved the piece however, over time the stamp inside will be completely worn. Knowing the metal (testing the metal) can help determine the country of origin. This can be used in dating any Antique and Period piece of jewelry too.
At least since the 4th Century BC for seals from Mesopotamia are dated at 3300 BC. The very earliest of engravings in rock is the petroglyph and this was around 15,000 BC.
Hardstone Cameos ONLY will not be much affected from heat and wear but CAN be affected by elements such as smoke or dirt, mildew etc. These can be cleaned by ultrasonic cleaner at your local jeweler or commercial jewelry cleaners. The shell Cameos or other organic materials can become brittle if exposed to any heat and overtime the more delicate materials will crack. Keep them away from all harsh materials, harsh cleaning agents and other jewelry and remember NO HEAT. Depending on the material used it can be an arduous task to clean and without the proper approach could damage a prized antique piece easily. Leave as is. I have taken to local jeweler if necessary or curator. You can dust the cameo with a soft bristle brush (brushing delicately with light and a microscope or some type of magnification), using a tiny amount of water. Note that once dirt is trapped in the (very) fine details of the piece the cleaning can cause scratching.
No. We can help evaluate the item or appraise. Also, can help in the resale if needed. You can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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At Cameo Calamity, you not only see timeless beauty but you get to take the journey and become a part of the precious preservation of such exquisite and rare pieces of art while discovering what it was like to be part of the lineage of the women and men of that era allowing you to take a step back into time.Learn More