Help please with 2 Cameos

Discussion in 'Jewelry' started by Lizzie, Feb 21, 2023.

  1. Lizzie

    Lizzie All you need is love ...and a dog.

    The first is large at 2 1/2" in diameter made from some type of plastic. Hot water makes it give off a light unpleasant smell but not strong enough to identify. Simichrome did not yield a definitive yellow result but I know black Bakelite doesn't test well this way. I see some listed with the same cameo as Bakelite (and supposedly tested) but I don't consider them trustworthy sources. I am sure this is not a rare piece so can anyone speak to the material used?

    The second question is on the soldier intaglio earrings. They are made from a silver metal which shines up nicely with a sunshine cloth but mainly I was wondering if the soldier is Roman, Greek or a mythical person from the style of their helmet. Thanks for looking and help. resize 1.JPG

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  2. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    The first brooch is made of 2 different materials. The cameo itself is a well known Czech design usually seen in glass, although it may also have been reproduced in plastic, not sure. In the photos the frame for the cameo appears to have a brownish cast, making me think it is Vulcanite or some other similar material. However, I think this may be a lighting artifact; the way the pin & clasp are screwed directly into the back make me think it could be jet. The way the cameo inset does not fit snugly into the frame also makes me think it was pre-made of a hard, not liquid, substance. She is a "pretty lady", no one in particular.

    The soldier, if the original artist had anyone in mind at all, would be one of the Greek heroes of the Trojan war. Menelaus & Ajax are 2 good candidates. They tend to all look alike. Only Odysseus has a really distinctive look.
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  3. Lizzie

    Lizzie All you need is love ...and a dog.

    Thanks Bronwen. You are right, it is pure black with no brownish cast. I think that is just a reflection of lighting. I am not sure what jet feels like but I assume it would be cold to the touch and have a glassy feel. This piece is warm and feels, sounds like Bakelite/plastic. It is heavy for its size.

    Also thanks on the earrings. Greek soldier is close enough.
    judy likes this.
  4. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Sounds just like jet. The first time I acquired a cameo in a jet frame I wrote the seller to ask if they were sure about their description. I had experience with jet used for carving by the Zuni but this was different. I really thought it was plastic based on feel & sound made when tapped. Seller assured me they had a lot of experience with jet & ultimately persuaded me. Afterwards had a few other encounters when my first reaction to jet was that it was plastic.

    Apart from color & gloss, the tip off on your piece is the way the findings are attached. You would never see this with plastic.
    judy, Figtree3 and Any Jewelry like this.
  5. Lizzie

    Lizzie All you need is love ...and a dog.

    Thank you Bronwen. Great information. I appreciate it. So it's Jet. What age would you put it at?
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  6. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Between the world wars. Think 20s more likely than 30s.
    judy likes this.
  7. Ownedbybear

    Ownedbybear Well-Known Member

    If you want to test for true jet, get unglazed white ceramic, like the underneath of a loo cistern lid. Very very gently rub it. If you get a brown smear (yeah, I KNOW) then it's jet. It feels warm because it's organic.
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  8. Lizzie

    Lizzie All you need is love ...and a dog.

    Thanks again Bronwen and Owned. The information is greatly appreciated. I love to learn and hopefully have less questions to bother you with.
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  9. Well-Known Member

    @Bronwen, is there a practical reason for those slices in the black piece that you know of? Like to protect it from crackling as it "breathes"? I know zip about vulcanite or jet, so I might be talking out my back end, I'm just curious.
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  10. Lizzie

    Lizzie All you need is love ...and a dog.

    Interesting question I just assumed they were part of the design. I am sure Bronwen will have the answer. I am glad you brought it up.
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  11. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Your belief in my omniscience is touching in the face of my admission of how I have more than once taken some convincing to feel sure a jet frame was not plastic. I actually had the same question cross my mind, whether the cuts around the edge could be functional in some way, to allow expansion or relieve pressure. However, jet seems quite rigid to me, more likely to crack than to bend or stretch, even given some mechanical help to do so. If the slots did have a purpose beyond decorative, think they would have to extend into the back to work. I conclude it is just an unusual decoration.
    komokwa, mirana, Figtree3 and 2 others like this.
  12. Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the answer. While beautiful with or without the slats, they just seem kind of out of place to me.
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  13. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    I too found them a bit incongruous.
    komokwa likes this.
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