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Looks like Conch Shell Cameos
by: Anonymous

Hi Lori

thanks for writing in with the following cameo question...

"Hi..I have these 2 cameos and dont know anything about them. I do think one belonged to my boyfriend's mother and one belonged to his grandmother. any info on these two cameos would be greatly appreciated. I can't tell if they are shell or plastic. THANK YOU."

To determine if the cameos are real or fake, if you have a gold testing kit, just drop a tiny amount of nitric acid onto the back or the underneath of the cameo and if it bubbles up, it is a genuine shell cameo. It will not damage the cameo. Composite cameos have been round for a long time and some are very good shell cameo impostors.

Although the photo isn't that clear, I'm leaning towards a shell cameo. The variations of color looks like the artist made use of color layers of the shell.

Napoleon Bonaparte contributed towards the popularity of cameos, commencing at the turn of the 18th- 19th century.

Originally cameos were carved from stones, such as amethyst, garnet, citrine, onyx, agate, sardonyx, carnelian, coral, lava, and jet were all popular.

The demand for lower-priced cameos resulted in the use of freely available - SHELLS. Carvers used helmut shells and the pink and white queen's conches, which were plentiful in the seacoast towns of Italy. The very light cameo material is called "angel skin".

The back of the cameo and the cameo findings will provide dating clues. I cannot see these and not sure which is the cameo pendant and which is the cameo pin. I think I can just make out a pendant loop peaking out over the top of what looks like the lighter angle-skin cameo. Pendant loops became popular in the early 20th century.

I doubt that either one of these two cameo beauties would have been made any early than the 1900s, although it's pretty hard to date going by photos, especially dates and quality of cameos. These same reasons, present difficulties when buying cameos over the internet. You really need to hold a cameo in the hand to appreciate the fineness and the artwork of the carver.

Are the surrounds in gold? or gold plated metal? Are there any composition marks on the metal? Examine everywhere on the surround with a jewelers loupe or strong magnifying glass. Any hallmarks on the metal would add to the overall value and also establish a certain type of "quality" for the antique jewelry investor to keep in mind.

best wishes,

Yvonne Hammouda-Eyre
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