Cameo maintenance



How to conserve Cameos


Shell cameos are prone to cracking and discoloration from age and dryness. They require more care because the shell is soft compared to stone cameos. Soft cameos are porous and need periodic "moisturizing." You can do this using baby oil or mineral oil applied with your finger, a piece of cloth or a Q-tip. Allow it to soak overnight. In the morning, wipe off the excess with a soft, lint-free cloth. Cameos need this about twice a year and especially after having a cameo cleaned. Many times a beautiful cameo has cracked from becoming too dry. Another word of caution: never store your cameos in a jewelry box with your other jewelry. It will become scratched or chipped. Store your shell cameos in a cloth bag made for this purpose. Most jewelers sell these. If you are a good customer, they will give you one for the asking.

How to clean Cameos


There is no mystery in cleaning shell and coral cameos. A warm solution of any mild soap such as Woolite used with a soft toothbrush will do the job. Never soak you cameo for more than 30 seconds. After brushing, rinse in warm water and dry with a soft cloth. There are many commercial jewelry cleaners on the market. Many of them, however, contain harsh chemicals that will erode and sometimes discolor shell, coral and pearls. The best to stay away from commercial jewelry cleaners if you are cleaning your cameo. If you have misgivings about doing the cleaning yourself, take the cameo to a competent, reliable jeweler, or you can use a commercial pearl cleaner, being careful to follow the manufacturer's directions. Pearls, coral, and shell cameos are all calcium carbonate. The commercial pearl cleaners are safe to use on all three.