Cameo Bracelet, about 1860


Cameos were traditionally carved from stone as carvers carefully worked in layers of agate, cutting away lower layers of color and leaving, in relief, layers of white or ivory colored strata.It is difficult and expensive work.In the early nineteenth century Italian carvers began carving cameos from shell, working the strata to leave white layers in relief on the cameo.This shell cameo carving reduced the price of cameos somewhat. The fineness of some of the best shell cameo cutters rivals those of stone cameo cutters.Cameos were also cut from granite, coral, and lava in this era. Cameo jewelry rendered with the heads of the ancients were particularly popular souvenirs for those on The Grand Tour,which were extended European tours especially through France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland; commonly taken at this time by youth of the aristocracy as part of their education.

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