The World's Finest Handcrafted Designer Jewelry
Cameo Education

Ronaldo Designer Jewelry, Inc.
is proud to import only the finest hand-carved Cameos from Torre del Greco, Italy. Crispino Art Cameos are one of the leading cameo producers in Torre del Greco, and we bring you his remarkable shell cameos. He employs a number of cameo artists, a number of whom have reached the status of Master Carver.
               
                      


Fiore Line Cameo
THE HISTORY OF CAMEOS

A cameo is usually made of two types of material, commonly precious or semi-precious stone. One material is carved into a figure — the most common type being a profile portrait of a person's head. This is then set upon the other type of material which provides a background of another color to offset the figure. Alternately, a cameo can be made from (banded) agate, where different layers of the same stone have different colors. Sometimes dyes are used to enhance the colors.

Though royalty has popularized wearing cameos, please note that men, as well as women, have worn them. The most popular cameos today are carved in sea shells, a tradition that began in the fifteenth or sixteenth century and was popularized by Queen Victoria of England. Since that time, cameos have predominately showcased women's profiles, and they have been worn by women who enjoy the beauty and craftsmanship of hand-carved cameos.

Yet cameos have not always been decorative jewelry for women. In fact, at different points in history they have been worn as frequently by men. The birthplace of the cameo was nearly 300 years before the birth of Christ in Alexandria, Egypt, and cameos owe their origins to ancient carving traditions. As far back as 15,000 BC, petroglyphs — figures carved into rock — were used to record significant events and communicate information. In ancient times people used cameos to depict an ethic or moral, or to make a statement about their faith or loyalties.

In the centuries since, cameos have been used for various purposes and decorated with a wide range of carvings:

              
  • Early Greek and Roman carvings featured images of gods and goddesses, themes from mythology, beautiful women, and biblical events.

  • Many cameos through history depicted then-living heroes or rulers.

  • In the Hellenistic era, young women used cameos as charms to express desire. A woman could wear a cameo depicting a dancing Eros as a seductive invitation to love.

  • During the Renaissance, Pope Paul II was an avid cameo collector. According to history, this love ultimately led to his death. His excessive display of carved gems and stones on his fingers kept his hands so cold that he caught the chill that meant his death.

  • Cameos have been used on helmets and military accessories like breastplates and sword handles, on rings and other jewelry, and on vases, cups and dishes.

  • Women first began collecting cameos to prove cultural status during the Elizabethan period. At the same time, tourist travel to the ruins of Pompeii was on the rise, and women began collecting shell and lava cameos as souvenirs to remember their travels.

  • During the 18th century, men purchased carved gems to mark their prestige and cultural status.

  • Cameos enchanted Napoleon, who wore a cameo to his own wedding and founded a school in Paris to teach the art of cameo carving to young, French apprentices.

  • Not until the nineteenth century, when the popularity of shell cameos grew — reducing the use of hard stones or Agate — did profiles become as popular a subject matter as they are today.
             
           
 
Cameos should be dusted gently and oiled, using mineral oil, at least once a year. Do not scrub a cameo nor soak it! Cameos should be stored in a cool, dry place.

SHELL CAMEOS

The carnelian shell is the one most frequently used for cameo carving. In color, carnelian shells are a low-intensity peach or orange color, offering contrast between foreground and background colors.

Shell cameos are mainly carved in Italy, and 22 different types of shells are used. Cameos of great artistry were made in Greece dating back as far as the 6th century BC. They were very popular in Ancient Rome and have enjoyed periodic revivals, particularly in the early Renaissance and in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The sardonyx shell has a thick outer wall and a dark brown interior, and when carved it can resemble marble. Cameos carved in sardonyx shells are distinctive in color with a dark brown background and white foreground. They frequently cost more because the shells are rare.

AGATE AND MOTHER OF PEARL CAMEOS

Agate cameos are primarily carved in Germany and are blue or green in color.  These cameos have a more modern look, despite the fact that agate has been used for cameos for centuries.

Some cameos are carved in mother-of-pearl, producing a cameo of an opalescent, bluish-gray color. These cameos are best set in silver.

ABOUT THE CRISPINO FAMILY

The Crispino family is over five generations in hand carving cameo masters, in Torre del Greco Italy, the capital of Italian Cameos in the world.

Located between Naples and Pompeii, where is the only school that teaches how to carve Cameos and Coral, founded 1878.  The school is a five year college program; the first two years are only designing and practicing.  After that they are dedicated in learning how to carve cameos on seashells by using 24 different tools called Bulimia; then after they can graduate as a student that are apprentices up to 20 years working next to a skilled and master carver to be called Master Carver.

In The Crispino Family, we have documentation that several members have attended the school and graduated with honors, as well a Professor in the 1960’s, his Name Michele Crispino.

Alessandro’s passion and skills for creations of carving cameos was inspired by his father Giuseppe Crispino born in 1935, who is still his mentor and model. In Alessandro’s carvings, you can see detail from different lines always unique and represent the old and the new carving styles. Alessandro’s creations are highlighting the beauty and preciousness of a Hand Carved Cameo, which are becoming rare and unique throughout the world.

Another important member of the Crispino’s family is Antony Crispino born in 1969, a carver as well, but an expert in seashells, for cameos.  After, he finished different courses in Art Design in Naples Italy; he started his mission to find only the top quality seashells for cameos.

Antonio spent  12 years around the world; in particular in Africa and Central America traveling in jungles and dangerous regions, dealing with fishermen with different cultures, and dialects to reach  his goal of providing the  “Perfect Seashell” for Crispino’s Family and be the top dealer in Italy.

As of today, The Crispino Family Control 75% of the seashell business in Torre del Greco, Italy.