Carved Carnelian and Cameos

Portraits in Miniature

Carved Gems

During my visits to museums filled with Roman artefacts, I have discovered many tiny carved gems and cameos. Their intricate carvings fascinate me. Here are some of the jewels that I have found.

  • Cameos and Intaglios. 1st - 3rd Centuries AD. Capitoline Museum, Rome
  • Roman Rings. 1st - 3rd Centuries AD. Archeological Park Xanten, Xanten Germany
  • Roman Ring. Carnelian and Gold. 1st - 3rd Centuries AD. Archeological Park Xanten, Xanten Germany
  • Roman Ring. Carnelian and Gold. 1st - 3rd Centuries AD. Archeological Park Xanten, Xanten Germany
  • Alexander Ring. Carnelian and Gold. 100 - 1 BC. Getty Villa, Malibu USA
  • Bust of Aurelian. Amethyst. AD 260 -280. Getty Villa, Malibu USA
  • Engraved Gem with a Discus Thrower. Carnelian. Etruscan, 400 - 300 BC. Getty Villa, Malibu

Cameos

As a child, I remember my mother cherishing her cameo jewellery. I never imagined that cameos had been popular 2000 years ago.

  • Portrait of Augustus wearing the axis of Minerva. Sardonyx. AD 14-20. British Museum, London UK
  • Livilla or Drusilla. Sardonyx. AD 37-41. British Museum, London UK
  • #7 Possibly Agrippina. Sardonyx. AD 30-40. #8 Agrippina. Sardonyx. AD 37-41. British Museum, London UK
  • #12 Young Nero. Sardonyx. AD 50-59. #13 Agrippina the Younger. Sardonyx. AD 57-59. #14 Nero. Sardonyx Sealstone. AD 64-68. British Museum, London UK
  • Claudius. Sardonyx. AD 41-50. British Museum, London UK
  • Two Members of Imperial Family as Jupiter Ammon and Juno or Isis. Sardonyx. AD 37-50. British Museum, London UK
  • Sardonyx Cameo. British Museum, London UK
  • Sardonyx Cameo. British Museum, London UK
  • Sardonyx Cameo. British Museum, London UK
  • Cameos and Intaglios. 1st - 3rd Centuries AD. Capitoline Museum, Rome Italy
  • Roman Cameo. 1st-3rd Century AD. Capitoline Museum, Rome Italy
  • Roman Cameo. 1st-3rd Century AD. Capitoline Museum, Rome Italy
  • Roman Cameo. 1st-3rd Century AD. Capitoline Museum, Rome Italy
  • Roman Cameo. Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne Germany
  • Roman Carved Face. Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne Germany
  • Roman Cameo. Archeological Park Xanten, Xanten Germany
  • Perseus Holding Medusa Head. Getty Villa, Malibu USA
  • Two Cupids Erecting a Military Trophy. Onyx and Gold. AD 1 - 100. Getty Villa, Malibu USA

Vases with Cameo Decoration

Cameo technique was also used in ancient vases to create elaborate decoration. Two excellent examples are the Portland Vase in the British Museum and the Blue Vase in the Naples Archaeological Museum.

  • Portland Vase. Glass. 15 BC - AD 25. British Museum, London UK
  • Portland Vase. Glass. 15 BC - AD 25. British Museum, London UK
  • Portland Vase. Glass. 15 BC - AD 25. British Museum, London UK
  • Blue Vase. Mid 1st Century AD. Naples Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy

Info on Ancient Gems from the Getty Museum

A piece from The Getty Iris, Ancient Ruins – Parts of the Past as Well as the Present.

Also, the Getty Museum’s short video about how carnelian is carved into a portrait in miniature.

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