What is a Cameo?

Cameo is a method of carving a piece of jewelry with a raised relief, and where the color of the relief is contrasted against that of the background. This is achieved by carving a piece of material with a flat surface where two different colors meet, removing the entire top color for the image and leaving only the background as a different color.

Through history, cameos often depicted rulers and some famous leaders, such as Alexander the Great, used cameos to portray themselves as gods. Mythology and other classical themes were also popular in cameo carvings, while others depicted beautiful women in profile. In the 1600’s cameos were carved from seashells and became very popular in the time of Queen Victoria.

Modern cameos are often produced from layered agates. The most popular color combinations are white on blue, white on black, and white on red-brown. A master designer using an Ultrasonic Mill allows multiple copies of the same cameo to be produced quickly. In addition to jewelry pieces, cameos have been used on military accessories such as swords, helmets, and to decorate vases and dishes.

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