Cameo is a method of carving an object such as an engraved gem, item of jewelry or vessel made in this manner.
Cameos have not always been decorative jewelry for women. In fact, at different points in history they have been worn as frequently by men. While the birthplace of the cameo was nearly 300 years before the birth of Christ in Alexandria, Egypt, cameos owe their origins to ancient carving traditions. As far back as 15,000 BC, petroglyphs — figures carved into rock — were used to record significant events and communicate information. In ancient times people used cameos to depict an ethic or moral, or to make a statement about their faith or loyalties.
Interesting Fact: Cameos enchanted Napoléon, who wore a cameo to his own wedding and founded a school in Paris to teach the art of cameo carving to young apprentices.
Ancient and Renaissance cameos were made from semi-precious gemstones, especially the various types of onyx and agate, and any other stones with a flat plane where two contrasting colors meet; these are "hardstone" cameos.
Modern cameos can be produced by setting a carved relief, such as a portrait, onto a background of a contrasting color. This is called an assembled cameo. In our jewelry, we only use cameos carved by the traditional, but far more difficult, method directly out of a material with integral layers or banding, such as (banded) agate, where different layers have different colors.
Sometimes dyes are used to enhance these colors.
Here is a photo of a silver ring with blue agate and cameo:
Check out more cameo jewelry.