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Don't buy a Cameo before you read this!
"10 Things You Should Know..."

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Cameo Jewelry Articles

Agate Cameos A Timeless Treasure

Agate Cameos - A Timeless Heirloom
by Preston Reuther

The timeless beauty of cameo jewelry has been enjoyed by jewelry designers for centuries. These miniature sculptures have been traced back as far as 6 BC in Rome! Themes were usually mythological from both Greek and Roman histories. Other popular motifs included various Bacchante maidens, The Three Graces and religious scenes of angels, baby Jesus and others.  During the Renaissance, only royalty and members of the clergy wore cameos. However, since that time, cameos have become loved pieces of adornment for all classes and stations of life and a growing part of the investing community is investing in jewelry for the long haul.  The popularity of the cameo peaked during the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria who loved to wear them and gave them as gifts.

Agate is named after the Achates River in Sicily Italy, known today as the Drillo River, which is a major source of this stone that is used in the
agate cameo creation. Agate is the opaque variety of Quartz. The stone belongs to the silex family and is formed by deposits of siliceous beds in hollows of rocks. Agate and onyx differ only in the manner in which the stone is cut. If its cut to show the layers of color, its called agate; if cut parallel to the lines, its called onyx. But basically its the same stone!

Agate surpasses steel in hardness and durability making it the perfect material for carving cameos. Its close-grained texture makes it possible to carve the finest of details without splintering or shattering it. This also makes it an excellent long term gemstone for jewelry investors that want their art collection to be safe.
 Idar-Oberstein, Germany, is a city that is famous for their agate carvings. This type of carving is difficult because of the hardness of the agates but the technique can create some incredible
works of art
. These types of cameos are ultrasonically carved and the cameos are created from pieces of high quality white agate found only in a limited area in the region of Idar-Oberstein and some parts of Brazil. The agate is first dyed black, red, green or blue. A computer, using a template from an original hand carved work of art, then carves it ultrasonically.
Afterward, the color is then chemically drawn back out of the face of the cameo, leaving it in the original white of the natural stone. These ultrasonically carved cameos are very hard to distinguish from the hand carved variety. It is only through the use of a loupe that an expert can determine which cameos are machine made. To learn more about cameos, it is important to spend a lot of time handling them. Cameo jewelry collectors and jewelry investors will learn the feel of the different materials through years of experience handling them.

Agate is the birthstone for the month of May, the mystical birthstone for the month of September and the astrological birthstone for Capricorns. Its considered a lucky charm for the astrological signs of Gemini and Cancer. Agate is the anniversary gemstone for the 12th year of marriage.

Agate stones are said to help one get in touch with nature and to inspire introspection. Legends tell that agate guarded the wearer from dangers and gave the wearer a bold heart. In the Middle Ages it was believed to render the action of poisons useless. Agate was also believed to counteract the infection of contagious diseases and if held in the hand or mouth, to alleviate fever. It has been said that it cures insomnia and insures pleasant dreams. Some use it before meditating because of its calming and settling effects.

Ultrasonically carved agate cameos are resistant to shipping, peeling, cracking or fading and will not discolor with age. With two thousands years of experience regardless of the size or price, agate cameos will be around for a long, long, time. Agate cameo jewelry  is a great investment for 2009 considering the state of all paper investments.

PLUS  jewelry buyers and jewelry investors can hand down these treasures from generation to generation. ----Agate Cameos - The gift that keeps on giving.




Preston Reuther has been collecting, buying and selling cameos for over 20 years. He has written several e-books and produced over 34 jewelry making dvds, 150 videos and over 1000 articles on the jewelry making process.Visit his  antique cameo collection  at or Email him  at    or 816-689-2779




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