Cameo's - History and Creation..
Cameo is a method of carving, or an item of jewellery made in this manner. It features a raised (positive) relief image; contrast with intaglio, which has a negative image. The effect of "cameo" also refers to a proof coin that has frosted lettering and features, providing attractive contrast with the mirrored fields of the coin. The terms "deep cameo" and "ultra cameo" describe cameo coins having the boldest, most attractive contrast.
A cameo is usually made of two types of material, commonly precious or semi-precious stone. One material is carved into a figure, the most common type being a profile portrait of a person's head. This is then set upon the other type of material which provides a background of another colour to offset the figure.
Alternately, a cameo can be made from (banded) agate, where different layers of the same stone have different colours. Be aware that sometimes dyes are used to enhance the colours.
Cameos are often worn as jewelry. Cameos of great artistry were made in Greece dating back as far as the 6th century BC. They were very popular in Ancient Rome. In fact, just outside of Naples, Italy, cameos are still handcrafted today. They can be expensive as each one is carved by hand and take from days to weeks to complete.
Cameo's are created using Coral. The most prized and valued colors of coral are red, black, and pink, which is also known as angel skin coral. Coral is much softer than other gem materials and as such, it can be scratched easily. Coral is porous, which means it aborbs most anything it comes into contact and as such, you should keep any coral jewelry you have away from chemicals. The best way to clean Coral is with a soft (non-abrasize) cloth. The cloth may be moist however, do not use even the mildest of soaps to clean Coral.
Coral is comprised of calcium carbonate and its color range is from white to red. Coral is harvested by divers, as it grows in branches that look like underwater trees. This also explains why Coral is somewhat expensive, as the only way to get to the Coral is by diving the depths of the ocean in search of the various colors.
Much of the Coral that is sold is from Taiwan or Japan. In addition, Coral can be found in various aprts of the world. Coral is used mostly to create Cameo's and this would explain why Cameo's can be somewhat expensive. Coral is also used to product earrings, necklaces, brooches, rings and necklaces.
Cameo Buying Tips..
Make sure that when purchasing or bidding on a Cameo that you confirm the item is indeed created using Coral and NOT plastic. Cameo's created using plastic are simply molds, which are pressed out and then set into gold or silver. If the price of a cameo seems to good to be true, then it may be plastic as Cameo's created out of Coral can range in price depending on the type of Coral used to create the piece.
Other guides relating to jewelry and gemstone buying which you may find helpful are as follows: