Pretty as a Picture

January 1999

Gemstones & Pearls:New Products

Pretty as a Picture

A miniaturized art form makes a comeback

Since their creation 2,500 years ago, cameos have appealed to people all over the world. The handcarved wonders have honored customs, historic events and special occasions. Many cameos represent stories taken from Greek or Roman mythology. But the best-selling types of cameos, portraits of a woman's face or profile, have been around for only a hundred years.

"No other piece of jewelry is cherished as much as a cameo," says John Kessler of Kessler Mfg. & Imports, Wilmette, IL. "It's a gift for those who appreciate art and for the truly romantic."

Patricia Liquard, president of Esslinger & Co., St. Paul, MN, says today's consumers are rediscovering cameos because of a resurgence in reproduction and period jewelry. "Plus there's a large supply of materials that a cameo can be carved from other than shells," she says.

Because cameos are gems carved in relief, the contrast between the carving and the background of the piece is important. The pink conch shell or caramel-colored carnelian are the most popular; dark brown cameos are carved from the rarer sardonyx. A variety of other material can be used, including agate, mother of pearl, coral, lava and turquoise. The carving technique was once done by hand, but now lasers are used.

Create a dramatic display by hanging cameos in a shadow box. Or display a partially or fully carved cameo in a conch shell and use it to teach consumers how the work is done.

– by Lorraine M. Suermann

Agate cameos from Germany are laser-carved. Sold loose or in 14k gold copyright settings, these cameos are available in black, red or green. Suggested retail, loose or set, $110-$800.
Esslinger & Co., St. Paul, MN; (612) 452-7180, fax (651) 452-4298.

Blue cameo brooch and pearl enhancer sparkles with diamond and sapphire accents in 14k gold. Suggested retail, $895.
Creation Thibaudeau Inc., Montreal, Canada; (514) 397-9411, fax (514) 397-8855.

30mm Italian carnelian cameo from Kessler Mfg. & Imports depicts three muses from Greek and Roman mythology and is available in 14k or sterling silver. Keystone, $300.
Kessler Mfg. & Imports, Wilmette, IL; (847) 982-1555, fax (847) 982-1570.

Pink and white cameo is carved with a floral motif in 18k gold.
Vicenzo Ricevuto Cameo Jewelry, Naples, Italy; (39-081) 881-4976, fax (39-081) 882-2734, e-mail cameos@supermed. com.

Oval carnelian cameo from Man-Am Creations is set in a handmade 14k twisted-wire bezel as a pin and pendant. The bezel is wrapped with seed pearls. Suggested retail, $600.
Man-Am Creations Ltd., New York City;(800) 8MANAM7 or (914) 365-2846, fax (914) 365-3105.

Heron scene is handcarved from two-tone chalcedony.
Erwin Pauly, Idar-Oberstein, Germany; (67-81) 315-44, fax (67-81) 314-83.

Ring features agate cameo with diamond and garnet accents in 14k gold. Suggested retail, $300.
Van Dell, Providence, RI; (800) 826-3355.

Engravable 20mm x 15mm German carved agate "Child of Mine" cameo is handset in a 14k die-struck bezel and is available with a twist or plain border as a pendant, pin or pin/pendant. Suggested retail, $239-$339.
W.E. Richards, Attleboro, MA; (800) 343-3978, fax (800) 435-2124.

Everlasting Love is part of an inspirational line of copyright cameo jewelry by OTC International Ltd. The first in a series of ethnic mother-and-child cameos, this one depicts an African-American woman and her baby.
OTC International Ltd., Long Island City, New York; (718) 391-7400, fax (718) 391-7575.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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