Heather Rimmer, jewellery expert at Richard Winterton Auctioneers examines cameos

I’m guessing in every woman’s jewellery box there is one item of unworn forgotten about jewellery lurking in the depths amongst the broken pieces of gold, beads and pearls. Not quite fashionable anymore, not exactly pretty, probably passed down from an elderly Aunt or Grandmother…I’m going to take a guess and say it’s probably a cameo.

cameoThose usually brown shells with some sort of woman in profile,
probably mounted on a brooch pin you will never wear, a ring or a pendant that again…you probably will never wear.

So why do cameos often achieve their highest guide price at auction
and beyond? Aside from the run-of-the-mill-woman in profile, cameos
can be wildly interesting, depicting classical scenes of lovers, Greek
Goddesses, Roman soldiers, scenes from the Grand Tour. The Victorians
were particularly interested in Greek Mythology and often had scenes
from Greek myths carved onto their shells or into their hardstone.
Particularly sought after amongst collectors is the image of Athena in
her chariot, Medusas head adorned with snakes and sisters Nyx and Eos. To collectors across the auction world these scenes and subjects achieve good prices.

First starting out in jewellery years ago I dismissed the
highly decorative pieces of artwork for mere shell, and was not in the
least surprised when people turned them in for scrap, often breaking
the shell out for the tiny amount of gold encasing it. I happened to one day whilst viewing jewellery stumble across a large cameo the size of my palm with the most beautiful scene of Aurora of the Dawn riding her chariot flanked by cherubs, Eos and heavenly clouds swirling around her. It was truly stunning. It was later bought and scrapped for the gold scrolling. The cameo was destroyed. I have yet to this day to see anything similar and the subject of cameos has since held my interest.

Luckily at Richard Winterton Auctioneers we have managed to acquire for
auction another rare cameo. We are pleased to offer for auction an oval shape scene of a flying classical angel and a small Puto riding on her shoulders whilst they trail flowers behind
them. (Lot number/July Sale)
One can hope that the future is brighter for this unusual scene and piece of jewellery and the future owner will be an admirer and a wearer. The previous owner had made sure to attach a small safety chain, the brooch was so well thought of. With value of £60-80 this is surely worth more than scrap.

So before seeing that unworn piece of jewellery in the bottom of the jewellery box and seeing the scrap price, double check it’s overall integral value and craftsmanship with us to see whether it’s worth more. It certainly is to any collector.
Free valuations for all jewellery with Heather Rimmer is held at The Lichfield Salerooms every weekday morning from 9am to 12midday or by appointment and home visits. Please phone 01543 251081 for further details.