Interesting Facts About Cameo Jewelry:
- Early Greek and Roman carvings featured images of gods and goddesses, themes from mythology, beautiful women and biblical events.
- In the Hellenistic era young women used cameos as charms to express desire. A woman could wear a cameo depicting a dancing Eros as a seductive invitation to love.
- Women began collecting cameos to prove cultural status during the Elizabethan period
The art of cameo jewelry engraving can be traced as far back as the second and first centuries B.C. to the ancient Greco-Roman Empires where cameos enjoyed a golden age. The decline of the Roman Empire also brought with it a period of dormancy for cameo jewelry development.
It was not until the fifteenth century during the period referred to as the Renaissance that cameos resurfaced as an art form and as a medium for jewelry. The Medici family of Florence is credited with restoring cameos as jewelry. At about the same time a very high quality agate mine was discovered in southern Germany.
This region soon became the center of cameo technology and by the beginning of the 19th century possessed the most important agate deposits in the world. Over the past one hundred years, this area pioneered and is largely responsible for developing and refining the techniques used to carve and color today's cameos.
The once rich deposits of these mines have been exhausted and the world is now dependent on South America for its supply of high quality layered agate material for cameo jewelry and pendant carving.