Featured CAMEOS: Show & Tell or Ask & Answer

Discussion in 'Jewelry' started by Bronwen, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. Veronica B.

    Veronica B. Member

    Ah interesting! Yes, it could very well be that. Hopefully I will be able to tell once it arrives in the mail. I was wondering if the clasp was a replacement so it's nice to hear that somebody else thinks that is a possibility!
    Bronwen likes this.
  2. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Bluumz has it exactly, a swivel mount.
  3. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

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  4. mirana

    mirana Well-Known Member

    The rollover clasp is definitely a replacement, even without seeing the front, you can tell by the overall construction and the hinge. They sold rollovers in separate pieces with these little bases specifically for updating old c clasps.
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  5. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    It's sort of a transitional form of safety clasp. Early in the 20th there were those little fiddly ones with a lever that often didn't hold very well. What distinguishes this one from ones in use today is that the pin inserts into the mechanism from the front rather than from the bottom. This actually seems more secure; wonder why it didn't become the standard?
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2023
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  6. bluumz

    bluumz Quite Busy

    What is on the front (cameo) of yours? We'd love to see!
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  7. Veronica B.

    Veronica B. Member

    Here is an image from the online listing. I'm hoping to clean her up a bit once I get her, so I'll post some better photos then. The mount seems to have some wear (and possibly gold plating is peeling) but I'll know more once I see her. She was too pretty not to save. Is this a cameo of Erato? That's my best guess but you all may know better. Also, any sense of what sort of shell this is? Based on my research it's possibly a Helmet shell, does that seem right? Any ideas on age? I was guessing late Victorian or early 20th century but would love a more experienced opinion.
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  8. mirana

    mirana Well-Known Member

    Very nice! It's always fun when the carver tries to use the top layer of the shell to give more depth of color.

    Cameos this old are technically not in gold plate, but gold fill. Fill is more gold than plate and can hold up very well for a long time. Usually you look for edges or into scratches to see if you can see the secondary metal underneath. Sometimes a loupe is necessary. May not be great to find it for resale value, but I think it's a testament to how good fill is that it can be hard to see unless you're looking up close in person.

    Gold alloy this old can also tarnish due to the other metals they are mixed with. It just takes a really long time! That's to our advantage because some might assume something is not solid gold due to darkened areas which are normal when it's 100+ yrs old. :p You can clean it up with dish soap, glass cleaner (ammonia) and a rub with a jeweler's gold polish cloth. Polish cloth will take a tiny amount of metal off but I've found sometimes it's the thing for old tarnish.

    You may also see lead or silver solder (older jewelers seem to have been pretty liberal with it at times...) or green oxidization on non-gold bits. Sometimes a frame is gold but the fittings aren't.

    It's nice to have a beautiful frame, but if you love the carving then that's not a big deal imo. I'll buy un-mounted, missing needles/bails, or damaged frames if the art in it speaks to me!
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  9. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    For heaven's sake, don't get any ammonia on the cameo! My personal preference in this is to clean the cameo itself until it looks like it just left the cutter's hand, maybe clean off the worst oxidation on the mount & leave the rest to show its age.

    She is helmet shell, & I would also go with Erato, although it is unusual to wreathe her with ivy. If the lyre had not been there I would have thought Ariadne or an unnamed bacchante. Apollo, Erato's boss, is sometimes shown with ivy & Antinous too.
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  10. mirana

    mirana Well-Known Member

    Yes, ammonia only on gold jewelry. Never used anything tougher than diluted dish soap on cameos. They're similar to pearl in fragility from cleaning.
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  11. RachelW

    RachelW Well-Known Member

    The time has come to finally post here myself! This intaglio came in a group I recieved today. My research says this is Sybil, from Angelica Kauffman's painting. This is plaster right? And would dating it to the 1870s not be far off?

    Poor thing needs a good clean, I think you've said before to just go gentle with some warm water, but if this is plaster I don't want to get it wet.

    IMG_20231117_172704.jpg IMG_20231117_172638.jpg

  12. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Well, you're all in now.

    The Persian Sibyl by Guercino:


    You can find the same painting attributed to Benedetto Gennari, but I think Guercino is probably correct. Both artists did sibyls from various places.

    What you have is the impression made by an intaglio. Here it is a bit more crisply:


    I would attempt to clean plaster very, very gingerly, probably starting with an eraser. If no help there, might spot test with toothpaste. This is one case where a whitening type product might be useful.

    Can you provide a link to the source naming the artist as Angelica Kauf... Never mind, think I found it. This one?


    Angelica Kauffman did this self portrait to meet the requirements for admission to the Academia San Luca:


    The anchor she is leaning on, hard to make out in this pic, supports the title the painting is known by, Speranza, Hope.
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  13. mirana

    mirana Well-Known Member

    I agree, a white rubber eraser is your best start. Anything that has liquid you should start with a spot test with a cotton tipped swab on the back. I'm betting an eraser or similar gentle abrasion will do the most good though.
  14. RachelW

    RachelW Well-Known Member

    @Bronwen wait so she copied a Guercino? As a student? Interesting! And its an impression, not an intaglio itself.

    Thanks both you and @mirana for the tips on cleaning. I'll post more pics when she's a bit shinier!
  15. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    The site that attributes the painting of the Persian Sibyl to Kaufmann is incorrect, probably mixing it up with Speranza. If you search for 'sibyl Guercino' & 'sibyl Domenichino', your head will spin.
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  16. Veronica B.

    Veronica B. Member

    Question: Is there an easy way to identify glass vs coral cameos from photos?
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  17. mirana

    mirana Well-Known Member

    Coral has growth patterns that look like lines running through it. It's also not as glossy, and has signs of carving, like deep cuts or drill holes. CoralSample.jpg

    The fake stuff I see is usually resin/plastic or celluloid. These are pretty much always really bright red or bright pink for some reason. The celluloid can have lines but they're fairly uniform. They have that rounded, molded look. You can usually find multiples of the same piece. They're glossy.

    @Bronwen has a fantastic Materials Guide here and though it's about coral vs conch, it gives you lots of samples to look at. Whole site is worth a read in general. :)

    You can also just post what you're looking at here and we can help. :D
  18. mirana

    mirana Well-Known Member

    Bought a couple of lots and sifted some cameos out. First is a Lava Diana who's 1.75" tall. As typical with these sellers, I couldn't see her very well in the photos but I think she's charming. The crack has no movement and seems pretty stable.

    Lava Diana 1 Asm.jpg

    Bit of Wedgwood with a full set of British silver hallmarks on the back for Birmingham 1914. I have only been able to find one other of this Wedgwood image so I guess an aggressively hungry Bird Dad wasn't as popular as the more nicely posed version. :hilarious:

    Wedgwood 1914 Hebe Eagle Bar Brooch 1 Asm.jpg

    That lil leggy...
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  19. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    The Diana is a bit unusual for a lava presentation in that it shows more than just her head & is deeply incised.

    The Wedgwood is Ganymede:

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  20. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    The short answer is no, often not easy, but if you develop an eye for details as Mirana has outlined them, much of the time you can make a reasonably confident guess. However, coral is probably the cameo material best imitated by glass & plastics.

    These 3 are all artificial:


    The one on the left is probably the one seen most widely. These are the backs of the other two:


    With a piece in hand you can gauge a couple of properties not discernible from photos. Sometimes you can tell they are hollow by light weight & empty sound when tapped with a fingernail. You can also try the same tooth test as used for telling genuine pearls from artificial ones. No matter how smooth a highly polished piece of coral feels against the teeth, it will not be as slick as glass or plastic.

    Best guidance is, if the photos don't tell a decisive story, only buy with the right to return so you can examine in person.
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