Mid-summer heat makes me want to just spend my days oceanside, splashing in the surf. Alas, the mountains don’t provide many waves to frolic in, and so I must satisfy that urge for the ocean by playing with ocean gemstones.
One of the most beautiful and interesting items to wrap are cameos. They come in a variety of different materials from agate to resin, from shell to bone. Each depicts a scene or person in a three dimensional carving that creates an elegant statement.
The original cameo carvings were made out of gemstones, usually onyx, sardonyx and agate. These were made less for decoration and more for protection. “Cameo” is derived from the kabbalistic word “Kame’o” meaning “talisman.” Furthermore, instead of pendants and brooches, they were found more often in signet rings and earrings. However, vases, bowls and other large pieces were not unusual when the Greeks invented glass cameos. These gained tremendous popularity during the Italian renaissance.
Cameos have always been expensive due to their hand carved features, so throughout history, only the wealthy could afford such luxuries. Nonetheless, because the cameo became such of a trend during the time of Queen Victoria, they were mass produced by the end of the 19th century in the classic agate and glass with other materials such as bronze, shell and bone introduced.