Cameos are exquisitely hand-carved shells depicting scenes or portraits of people or animals. The most popular shells used for cameos are Carnelian and Sardonyx shells. Their outer shells are naturally white and uneven, whereas their color underneath can vary from tones of orange, deep purple or dark brown passing throughout a wide gamut of red.
Carving the top white layer with hand tools called Bulini, artists create their designs into the surface of the shell by carefully revealing the colored layer beneath.
Cameo carvers are lifelong students of Classical art and practice their artistry for years. Master carvers are able to transform a small piece cut from a large shell into a true work-of-art, by applying the bas-relief technique.
Not only must cameo carvers be extremely precise, they must also be able to use the shape, pattern and color of the shell to their advantage.
The challenge is to masterfully render the subject of the cameo to a minuscule space by hand carving depth and persecutive to a surface no thicker than an 1/8 of and inch. When the carving is complete the shell cameos are gently polished and brushed with olive oil to complete their shiny appearance. Shell Cameo jewelry are truly wearable works of art recognized around the world for their unique elegance and natural beauty.