CASCO - CAmeo & Coral Jewelry > About Cameos


Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603) pledged her affection to the Duke of Essex with her portrait carved on a turquoise and set in a ring. But Elizabeth had her French cameo artist cut her likeness or some scenic design for all her favorite cavaliers on semi-precious stones and turquoise, the choice cameo stone of late medieval Europe. Ancient Egypt's Cleopatra, however, had her lapidaries cut her portrait in low relief on precious stones, such as emeralds, for 'those she chose to honor'. And Victoria Regina (1819-1901), the famous Queen of the modern world, collected cameos carved from shells, and dispensed many to her admiring friends. The tastes of these three Queens mark the three materials much used in cameo carvings during the long History of Cameo. The semi-precious stones included turquoise, lapis lazuli, jade, amber, chalcedony, sardonyx, agate and onyx. Of the precious stones, emeralds, amethysts, and garnets are most used, with the ruby but rarely, and no diamonds until about the 15th century. Shells include cornelian shell, sardonic shell, pink shell and tiger shell. Other lesser materials include lava, mother-of-pearl, tortoise, lacquer, glass, clay, fruit stones, nut shells, ivory and bones.

Shells, lava, ivory and such softer materials have more fluid lines, gentler edges, and a softness of finish not commonly found in turquoise and hard stones. The Greeks carved their cameos in somewhat low relief, leaving the back of the cameo flat, but late medieval carvers pushed up the height of the relief and hollowed out the underside for light effects. Cameo Carvers love to work on stones and shells with several layers of color, as the various hues help bring out the decorative details. In portraiture, for instance, the set of the eyes, the curve of the cheek, the turn of the ear against the elaboration of the hair, must be shown. Also the sheer and delicate folds of the garment falling from the throat over the swelling breast, the firm fullness of the shoulder, the grace of the hand holding, say, the symbolic flower or scepter - all can be brought out in molding, shading, highlights and density of color. Fine cameos take many colored layers.

Among the different Cameo Materials, shells like sardonyx and carnelian and tiger, having from two to eight layers of color, give a perfect opportunity to the Cameo Carvers.

Cameo Production is a very delicate operation. From the selection of raw materials to cutting and carving them into beautiful creations we pay great attention. Our craftsmen bring together a blend of the old traditional techniques with the new, creating magnificent works of art.

Since ancient times, cameos have been prized by collectors and jewelers. Cameos are more than just jewelry. They are a personal item to be cherished and carefully conserved. Each one has its own uniqueness. A true cameo speaks to you with its eyes. The craftsmanship gives it a life and personality all its own.

It is no wonder that CASCO coral and cameo creations are passed down from generation to generation as treasured heirlooms.