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Cameos are miniature works of art carved in relief, primarily on hard-stones and shells. Intaglios are designs engraved or incised into the surface of a stone. Intaglios pre-dates cameos by thousands of years and were the seals used by royalty for personal documents. Since ancient times, cameos have been prized by royalty, emperors and others with the financial means to acquire them. For centuries, the German city of Ida-Oberstein has been the primary source of most hard-stone cameos. Torre Del Greco, Italy, where cameo carving also has ancient roots, is the recognized leader is shell and coral cameo production.
Damascene jewelry is characterized by oxidized non-precious metals that are decorated with 18k-24k gold and/or silver foil or wire in decorative patterns. Fine grooves are drawn and carved into the surface of the base metal with sharp cutting tools. Gold and/or silver is then inlaid with a steel punch and hammer. The artisans of Damascus, Syria, over 2000 years ago, are credited with developing the process into a high art form. Today, damascene jewlry is still produced in Japan and Spain.
Hopefully these videos will give you insight into the incredible skills and labor required in the making of hand-carved cameos and damascene jewelry
Keep in mind that many of the antique cameos that we sell are from the 1800s and were carved before the inception of electrical powered tools. Imagine the skill, time and labor that the artisians put into these remarkable and highly collectible works of art.
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