Shell Cameo Value

Shell Cameo Value Question: I have a cameo that my great aunt gave to me.

It belonged to her mother-in-law. It looks like a real shell-carved one.

It has a 10kt stamp on the back. It is a pin and also can be used with a chain.

I do not know much about cameos. Maybe you could tell me how to tell if it is valuable.

From what I understand my great aunt’s mother-in-law was well off.

Thank you!

Answer: G’day Mary and many thanks for your query

The first thing I would like you to consider is one of the main questions any gemologist/appraiser/valuer would ask themselves…

Cameo BroochIf you were going to mount a quality gemstone (a cameo in this case) would you mount it in a high grade metal like 18 carat, or in a lower grade metal, such as 10 karat?

Hmmmm – makes you think, doesn’t it?

The standard Cameo Brooch made in the last century nearly always had a hinged loop on the inside frame. These were also used to attach a small safety chain to the brooch before being pinned to the lapel, or when being worn high on the throat of a laced blouse.

Yes, you could string a chain through the loop and the choice was left to the owner. More used with a safety chain though.

Shell carved cameo is also one of the really hard items to appraise, because the shell cameo has also traditionally been sold as a ‘Tourist Gift’ from far off places. Think of the shell carving industry from Europe as an example. The designs were usually traditional with Greek or Roman females with long flowing hair. The three Muses were also very popular during the mid 20th century.

I think you are going to have to visit your local FRIENDLY jeweler and have a written valuation appraisal done on the item. This will cost but is the only way you are going to get a real answer.

Thankfully; once you have that written appraisal, you can always renew it right here with our inexpensive Jewelry Appraisals Online system and have it updated with the correct price every couple of years or so.

The best advise I can give you though is this – enjoy it!

Hope this helps…


Old enough to know better but young enough to not be dead yet

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6 Responses to “Shell Cameo Value”

  • Win

    Hi Dave, very informative discussion you got here regarding cameos. I have a question, I have here a vintage cameo whose dated around late 1800s can you appraise it for me? I will gladly send pictures to you if you can email me your email address, thanks

    • resident gemologist appraiser

      Can’t do Win – I can’t see it, feel it, measure or test it, so it would be impossible for me to give you an appraisal.

      You can do one yourself though because you CAN see it, feel it, measure and test it yourself, so filling in a simple online form will allow you to print your own appraisal.

      All the calculations, formulas and descriptions are built into our online service.

      Better if you have an old appraisal which is just out-of-date or an original store receipt or even an eBay Sellers description. As long as those documents have the weights and measurements on them, it is a simple matter of transforming them into the online form.

      Too East :-)


  • talondora1

    Thank you, David. I am seriously considering having my grandmother’s ring appraised. How does one go about finding a reputable antique jeweler appraiser?

    • resident gemologist appraiser

      G’day again Cynthia. There is no easy way.

      Start with the Yellow pages or word of mouth. Are there any Antique Dealers in your local area?

      Don’t forget that if you have all the details regarding weights and measurements etc, our ONLINE APPRAISAL SERVICE will also do Antique and Vintage Jewelry from Victorian right through to Retro.

      I am assuming you need an appraisal for Insurance Valuation.

      Hope that helps.

  • Cynthia

    I see alot of lovely and very expensive cameos that are reproductions of Victorian designs going for over 600.00 for a brooch, for instance.

    Are they more valuable than say, a slightly worn cameo wedding ring from the 1800s? I am sure that size is also considered but I was just wondering.

    • resident gemologist appraiser

      G’day Cynthia and many thanks for your comment on Shell Cameo.

      You are right when you say ‘size is a consideration’ but there are many other factors as well. The workmanship of the carving together with the design are also important. Just because something is ‘OLD’ doesn’t mean it is more valuable (think about an old bucket for example).

      Generally; and with all things taken into account, a genuine Vintage or antique is going to be more valuable than any reproduction – taking wear into account.

      Remember too that it does NOT stand alone! What is it made from? A Brooch may be heavier in gold quality and weight than a ring. The workmanship of the item comes into play as does any ADDITIONAL gems supporting the design.

      Hope all that helps.


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