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Antique cameos are beautiful works of art, as well as jewelry. Cameos can come in the form of a pin, necklace, brooch, ring or bracelet. Cameos have been in existence since ancient times; a cameo made from agate, dated from around B. The Victorian era saw a renewed interest in classics and many cameos from that time featured Greek gods and goddesses from mythology. In order to identify an antique cameo, a jeweler's loupe is needed to closely examine the cameo to date it and also to tell if it's fake.

If the cameo has a snowy appearance to it, it is machine made. This texture and the lack of any undercutting is what is used to determine whether a cameo is machine-made. Next, try to determine what the cameo is made from. Shell was one of the most popular materials used for cameos after Ivory was also used. If it has a c-clasp, the setting is most likely pre Besides women, men, flowers, and mythology were also used.

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The women of the s were depicted with a heavier body build, and long straight noses. Clothing of the early s often was depicted as Roman attire.

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Matronly hair buns were popular in the mids with upswept curls indicating the late s. To create this article, volunteer authors worked to edit and improve it over time.

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There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewe times. Learn more The cameo is a very elegant piece of jewelry that has recently come back into fashion, but due to its popularity, there are more realistic imitations nowadays than ever before. It can be difficult to know when a cameo is an authentic antique piece or a modern day imitation, but there are a few clues to consider.

To tell if a cameo is authentic, try looking at the direction of the face.

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The majority of authentic antique cameos will have a figure that faces to the right. Cameos with leftward or forward facing figures do exist, but they are less common. In addition to the direction of the face, look at the facial features for high-quality designs that feature the natural curves of the chin and mouth. For example, antique portrait cameos that have a straight and long nose are usually from the Victorian era and are authentic antiques.

Additional features that indicate that the cameo may be authentic include details like earrings, pearl necklaces, loose curls, and flowers in the design. For tips about how to look at the finish of the cameo, keep reading! Did this summary help you?

Dating shell cameos

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Co-authored by 6 contributors Community of editors, researchers, and specialists August 16, References Approved. Method 1 of Know which materials are most authentic. Authentic carved cameos can be made of shell or natural stone, while authentic painted cameos are typically made from porcelain. Some of the materials used include shell, agate, carnelian, onyx, ivory, lava, coral, jet, bone, mother of pearl, and various gemstones.

A cameo is referred to as being non-authentic or fake if it has been made with plastic or resin. Inspect the cameo for cracks. Hold your cameo up to the light. Regardless of the material and the age, you should see no chips or cracks in the foundation material. Hard resins are fairly chip-resistant, though.

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This speaks more to the cameo's value rather than its authenticity. A chipped cameo might be real, but these signs of damage will cause its market value to decline.

Mythology shell cameos usually date from the 18th Century to the very early 20th Century. Portrait cameo's that are painted or carved with a straight nose are usually the Victorian Era; and strong roman noses are pre's. If the nose is pert and cute, it is generally the 21 st century. Cameos can be made from various materials: shell, stone, coral, lava, plastic, glass or ivory. The type of material can indicate what era it is from. During the Victorian era, many cameos were made from shell. Jet was not used until the 19th century. Plastic is used in modern times and can look very similar to shell. In the 16th century, workmen turned to shell to meet the demand for more cameos at less expensive prices," Jeanenne writes. "Cameos were set in rings, brooches, earrings, and bracelets. The men wore them in watch fobs, rings, and pins. Stone cameos were cut from onyx, agate, sardonyx, cornelian, coral, lava, and jet.

Look at the direction of the face. The majority of antique cameos will have a figure facing right. After that, a leftward facing figure is most common, followed by a forward facing figure.

If you have other reason to doubt whether or not the cameo is real, though, the fact that the figure faces left or forward instead of right, as is most common, could give you further reason for doubt. Observe the facial features. An authentic cameo will have high-quality figures on it.

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The natural curves of the chin and mouth should be reflected in the design, and the figure will usually have rounded cheeks. Portraits with strong, "Roman" noses are usually dated before the s. A nose that looks "cute" or button-like usually indicates a newer cameo created in the 21st century.

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If the nose is turned up and the features are flat, it could be a sign that the cameo is fairly modern and likely created with lasers, making it non-authentic. Note the type of pin. Flip the cameo over and look at the pin on its back. An antique or vintage piece will usually have a plain "c-clasp" on it. There is no roll-over fitting there to keep the end in place.

Take detail into account. While some authentic cameos are plain, many valuable antique pieces will include finer details on the carving or painting. These features usually include things like earrings, pearl necklaces, loose curls, and flowers. For instance, many laser cut imitations have a faint white band near the outer border of the piece. Some authentic cameos will be set in 14K or 18K gold frames.

Silver and gold filled metal frames are also common. This is not always the case, however, and many have no settings at all.

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These frames may also be further decorated with valuable stones, but this, too, is not always true. Weigh the cameo in your hand. Plastic and glass cameos tend to be set in heavy base metals. As a result, they are usually heavier than shell and porcelain cameos.

This is not always true, however, so weight alone is not a good indication of authenticity. Many stone cameos are naturally heavier than their shell and porcelain counterparts, as well. Method 2 of Look at the finish.

Turn the cameo in your hand and observe the way the light hits it. A real shell cameo should have a matte appearance rather than a glossy one. Some authentic stone cameos might be slightly shiny, however, so this is not a foolproof test.

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Inspect the back. Hold the cameo face down and brush the back with your index finger.

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If the cameo is made from real shell, you should feel a slight concave or curve. The curve might be slight, though. This does not necessarily apply to natural carved cameos made from stones or other materials, though. View the cameo in strong light. With the back of the piece facing you, hold the cameo up against the sunlight on a particularly bright day or up against a strong artificial light. You should be able to see the entire silhouette if your cameo is made from shell.

While somewhat rare, some plastic cameos are similarly thin and may show the silhouette, as well.

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As a result, this is not a foolproof test when done on its own. Use a strong magnifying glass to look for marks. Inspect the front of the cameo with a very strong magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe.

Vintage Cameo Collection \u0026 Identification

You should be able to see faint marks made by the carving tool around the carved portions of the piece. This is true for all naturally carved cameos. Carve marks will usually follow the lines and curves of the design. Scratches that do not appear to follow these lines are usually just scratches and should not be perceived as an indication of authenticity. Feel the temperature. Hold the cameo in your hand for 30 seconds or so. A real stone or shell cameo will feel fairly cool, but a plastic piece will quickly warm up due to the temperature of the room and the heat of your skin.

You could also hold the cameo to your wrist or chin. These areas are generally a little cooler than the palm of your hand and may give you a more accurate indication.

Test the hardness. Gently hit the cameo against your tooth and listen for the sound it produces. It it sounds dull or hollow, it is likely made from plastic. In contrast, a cameo that sounds fairly solid is likely made of stone or another natural material.

Be careful when performing this test. Do not strike the piece against your teeth too hard since doing so could damage your tooth or the cameo.

Feb 16, † Carving Depiction - Scenic cameos are often more valuable than bust cameos. Dating your Cameo. Getting an exact date on your cameo can be tough, but there are are a few clues that can give you a rough estimation of date created. Cameos carved in Lava Stone are most likely Victorian EraAuthor: Michaela Taylor. Dating Cameo Brooches Clasps. Clasps are one of the things which should be examined first. During the Georgian and Victorian era a "C" Clasp was commonly used until it was replaced by a safety clasp around The "C" Clasp takes it's name because it looks like the letter C. Shell cameos are typically made out of conch shell and have an orangish-pink background with a white or cream foreground. It is important to know that carved shell is thin, making it somewhat transparent and susceptible to cracking. The cheaper molded plastic is .

Poke the cameo with a hot needle. Heat a sewing needle over a small flame or under running water, then poke the needle into the cameo. It will easily melt soft plastic but should not damage shell or stone.

Note that many modern resins are too hard and will not be melted that easily, though, so the test may not work.

Mar 09, † In order to even begin to date a cameo, you will need a jeweler's loupe. Study the piece under the loop carefully. First off, determine whether it is hand carved or machine made. Lasers are now used to create cameos. If the cameo has a snowy appearance to it, it is machine made. Picture an antique cameo, and the first image that probably pops into your mind is a woman's profile carved out of white shell against a coral background. That certainly describes a typical Victorian cameo, but cameos come in a much wider range of materials and designs. We have many types of cameo jewelry here on Most of these cameos, but not all, are carved from shell found in the Caribbean. And most were carved in Italy. Many of these shell cameos are original and designed by jewelry designers with handcrafted settings in gold or silver. We always provide the best descriptions.

Work carefully to prevent an accidental burn while handling the hot needle. Wear heat-proof gloves or hold the needle with plastic tweezers.

Method 3 of Examine the cameo for surface paint or enamel chips. Examine the paint or enamel on the decorated front surface of the piece.

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2 Replies to “Dating shell cameos”

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