Browse CAMEOS for sale on AZillion SPARKLZ website.
CAMEO ~ A process of carving or molding, in relief, glass or gemstone, usually in the form of a portrait or scene.
INTAGLIO ~ When an object of glass or gemstone has been carved or molded INTO the front side to form a pattern or picture. Similar to a cameo, however, a cameo is carved or molded in RELIEF, and an intaglio is carved or molded into the object. When it is carved or molded into the object but from the back then it is referred to as an a REVERSE INTAGLIO.
REVERSE INTAGLIO ~ A process of carving or molding a picture or scene into a transparent glass or gemstone from the back side. Reverse intaglios can be left hollow, filled with colored material, or painted in detail.
So.........a cameo is an
"out-y", an intaglio is an "in-y", and a reverse intaglio is an "in-y"
from the back.
MATERIALS, SEPARATIONS OF MATERIALS, & PROCESSES
Materials used for carved cameos are shell including abalone, coral, wood, bone, ivory , agate, chalcedony & carnelian including naturally layered hard stone, small "lava" , and large "lava" and note the variety of colors and, less often, other less well known materials such as Jet, Vulcanite, Bog Oak, mammoth ivory, and prehistoric walrus, etc.
Molded cameos are usually glass of one color, two colors, or swirled colors. Typically it is shiny, polished glass as in this 2-part specimen or matte such as this black glass with a wash for highlight, or this one; or, more rarely, glass with an applied tint. Also molded is plastics of all sorts, such as this Wedgwood style or this unusual two color celluloid, obviously plastic or quite good imitation of shell , metal; porcelain such as this Wedgwood style; and composition resins. While rare, some natural materials might be molded and these include Tortoise shell, amber, horn, rubber, and wood. One indication of molded cameo is a roundness of detail and a lack of sharp and precise lines. Mold marks and ridges, dimpling on the back, and conchoidal chips may be indicators of glass.
Shell cameos are carved from one piece of shell. Part of the artistry is the way in which the carver used the layers of color, which, while usually peach or brown with white, it can also include gradations or tints of natural shell color that may be used to emphasize aspects such as hair or flowers. Shell is soft and is easily carved. One indication of shell is a concave back and a thinness of material, except for abalone and mother of pearl, which will more likely be flat on the back. Light, almost white color coral is often confused with shell as the color can be similar. Coral, however, is usually a one color cameo with a flat back, while shell is usually a two color cameo with a curved, concave back.
Agate cameos are carved in much the same manner. However the carver has the distinct advantage of being able to see the layers of color (black, white, yellow and others) from the side and knows that these layers will basically be flat (as opposed to curved as in the shell). Offsetting that advantage is that hard stone is considerably harder to carve, by hand or with the aid of electric tools, than is shell. A good hard stone cameo may be under carved quite a bit at the junction where the portrait meets the flat plaque, at first giving the impression that it is an applied cameo. A thorough examination by an expert and/or gemological tests may be needed.
Laser Carved Cameos: In the past carved cameos have been done freehand by the artist, imparting good value to the finely carved ones. We are now seeing laser carved cameos. To my knowledge these have been restricted to mother-of-pearl and abalone and are usually seen in fancy sterling frames set with marcasites or in inexpensive plated frames. I would assume that these materials are preferable to shell because they are relatively thick and flat and lend themselves to mass production. I am not certain that "Laser Carved" is not actually ultrasonically carved, see paragraph below, and will make some effort toward finding out.
Amber Cameos: A current product that needs a second look is amber cameos. I am told that most of these are natural amber, though it is possible that the amber was heat treated to darken the color. I have been told that the reverse intaglios are hand carved. There is some question about the cameos .. they may be hand carved, laser cut, or ultrasonically cut, I don't have enough information yet. Possibly mass produced, a little more research is need into these. Do not confuse with the profusion of amber color glass cameos. I expect we will be seeing plastic imitations of the better amber cameos in the next few years.
Another current product to be aware of is Ultrasonically Carved Agate Cameos. Do not confuse these with an older, other similar looks of molded composition or porcelain. This is a nice sharp picture, perfectly carved with great detail. The process has been described to me two different ways. A template that contains the entire picture is pressed onto a natural layered hard stone and ultrasonically taps at 60,000 taps per second, eating into the stone. Or, perhaps, a series of templates are used in incremental layers. No hand carving is done and the pattern is repeated over and over in mass production, though, apparently a just-for-you-one-of-a-kind-from-a-photograph can be made. I believe that an indication of this process would be a lack of "undercutting" and a granular look under magnification.
Some cameos (both carved & molded) are made in one piece, or they might be assembled from 1-3 layers. A good examination with a loupe can usually distinguish the process. Glass & plastic especially, but also hard stone, coral & other materials, can be "applied". The two pieces are joined like a sandwich, generally a dark piece below and a light color piece above, joined with glue.
The distinction between carved and molded is important. A general indication would be that a natural material would be carved, while glass and plastic would likely be molded but could be carved though not very likely. Molded cameos can be two colors by the simple device of pouring one color into the mold in a thin layer and then following with a thicker layer of another color.
Whether a cameo or intaglio
is carved vs molded and/or one piece vs applied has a great deal
to do with value and when included as part of the description can
go a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings. Most glass and plastic
is molded and you will seldom, if ever, see carved glass or plastic.
The exception is the lucite plastic that has been
back carved, mostly in floral patterns. On carved pieces it has now
become necessary to consider whether they are hand carved, or mass produced
by laser or ultrasonic methods.
We would like the process of dating to have as few rules as possible, and then that they should be written in stone. Unfortunately it is not that way.
In addition to the clasp, the hairstyle, and the nose style, take into consideration the style of flowers, clothing, and, an important one, the style of the frame. When you bring all the factors together, and have looked at enough pictures with dating, you may be able to make an educated guess. It is a matter of study and experience, and in the case of our fine authors, also of many hours of research. Keep in mind that a fine old frame may have had a newer cameo as a replacement if the old one was damaged or unattractive.
I venture to say that normally value is not so much affected by the date of the piece as by the fineness of carving, attractiveness of the subject matter, frame style and quality, and the market demand which seems to fluctuate and also differs geographically. This is not to say that dating is not important.....extremely old, fine cameos can be very expensive, but the majority of what we see was probably made in this century and the last twenty years of the last century, and are poor, medium, or good quality. You want to educate your eye to recognize the really fine and excellent qualities, or the really old when you see it.
In my personal experience, the above factors are strong enough that a nicely carved portrait cameo set in silver or gold plate will sell for as much money (and sooner) than a mediocre one in a 14K setting.
CAMEOS OLD & NEW by Anna Miller, G.G. This marvelous book contains the history of cameos through the ages, the motifs and how they help with dating, the manufacturing processes, and guidelines for determining quality and value. If you have a special interest in cameos or just want to learn more, I highly recommend it. It contains many fascinating tidbits. For instance, the fad for cameos "died down" during the first half of the 19th century due to "mass production" of old styles, ... I wonder what those dear people would think of our mass production? Another excellent tip, examine the cameos from the 1920s carefully, actress Sarah Bernhard, Italian actress Eleonora Duse and other famous people were the subjects of cameos.
features a large catalog of over 600 pieces of jewelry, including Victorian,
Deco, Nouveau, rhinestones, Signature pieces, Plastics, Silver & Copper,
Cufflinks, Christmas and much more as linked in the index below.
You are welcome to shop, search for price comparisons, browse for
pleasure, or visit additional information pages, seen directly below.
ABOUT BUILDING A RHINESTONE INVENTORY
How to start building an inventory of loose rhinestones for doing replacement.
ABOUT GOLD/GOLD VALUES
Thoughts and facts about gold, buying/selling, antique values. Including spot gold formulas
ABOUT GOLD CARE
Watch out for the hot tub & the swimming pool!. Avoiding damage & loss to your fine gold & diamond jewelry.
Kinds of ivory, including elephant, mammoth and more. Examples & links. Ivory substitutes. Some guides to separation from other materials.
Definition of Cameo, Intaglio, Reverse Intaglio. Common & unusual materials used in cameos and how to identify them. Factors which affect pricing of cameos.
REPAIR VS CAMOUFLAGE
Definition of Repair, Camouflage, Normal Wear, Marriages, Collage, and a Guide to a Rating system for Costume Jewelry.
RESOURCES & MISC.
Costume Jewelry Newsletters, Cufflink Newsletter. Costume Jewelry Book Reviews. Patent Numbers. Storage Tips.
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Gaynor, P. O. Box 35038, Tucson, AZ 85740-5297 Website est. February 1997
Janet W. Gaynor, P. O. Box 35038, Tucson, AZ 85740-5297
Website est. February 1997