I’ve recently had a couple of emails from readers asking for help in identifying what their cameos are made from, so it’s given me an idea to do some blog posts on the different type of cameo available.
Let’s start with the cheapest type of cameo – one’s made from plastic resin. Generally costing between £2 and £15, they are perfect for everyday wear, and many are beautifully detailed.
Tips to identify:
Plastic cameos tend to feel slightly dense and heavy, and make a dull sound when gently tapped on the teeth.
Hold a piece of shell or smooth glass/ pebble in your hand – it’s feels cold. Now, hold a plastic cameo – it will feel warmer and softer in comparison (this is a great tip for identifying plastic beads too).
Stand in front of a window, and with the front of the cameo facing the window (so you are looking at the back of it), a hold a plastic cameo up to the light – it’ll be quite dense and opaque, where as shell cameos would still be detailed and quite transparent.
Here are some pictures of plastic cameos I’ve had, with further identification details:
I love vintage reverse carved Lucite jewelry, especially the little brooches from the 1940s and 1950s. Lucite is a trade name for acrylic thermoplastic (Perspex is another name), and it is a fabulous material which can be melted down and re-used.
As well as being factory made, reverse carving Lucite was a poular home made craft hobby during the mid 20th century. Morning Glory Antiques has a superb article on how it was created, complete with images of a 1947 magazines step-by-step DIY guide on how to carve the plastic
The reverse carving was finished by painted the inside using acrylic paints, oils or water based colour pigments (which is why you should never get them wet as the paint sometimes dissolves, as early on my my career I found out to my horror!)