Skip to Content

Is a cameo brooch worth anything?

Is a cameo brooch worth anything?

A cameo brooch can be a valuable accessory depending on several factors like age, materials, craftsmanship and subject. Here are some key points on assessing the value of cameo brooches:

What is a cameo brooch?

A cameo brooch features a carved relief portrait or scene on a background of contrasting color. Traditionally carved from shell, cameos can also be made from lava, onyx, coral and other materials. Most cameos feature a profile portrait, but can also depict mythological or natural scenes.

Cameos became popular jewelry during the Georgian and Victorian eras, crafted using shell carving techniques developed during ancient Greek and Roman times. During the Victorian era, archeologists unearthed carved gemstones and cameos in ancient Roman sites like Pompeii, fueling a revival of interest in cameo jewelry.

Factors affecting cameo brooch value

Several key factors determine the value of a cameo brooch:

Age – An antique Victorian or Georgian era cameo brooch over 100 years old will be more valuable than a vintage retro revival piece from the 20th century. Look for signs of age like patina, oxidation, wear to hardware. Authenticity should be verified by an appraiser.

Materials – Shell is the most common material for cameos, but natural materials like coral, lava, onyx and gemstones indicate higher value. Plastic cameos have very little worth. Examine materials closely or have them appraised.

Subject – Portraits of beautiful women are common, but those depicting mythological characters or scenes can indicate rarity and greater value. Subjects associated with ancient Greek, Roman or Renaissance art are desirable.

Craftsmanship – Finely detailed hand carved cameos have more worth than mass produced pieces. Look for intricacy of design, depth of relief, precision of carving. Marks of master carvers also add value.

Size – Larger cameo brooches (over 2 inches diameter) represent greater material value and artistry than small pieces. But petite brooches may still have high worth based on other factors.

Condition – Cracks, chips, scratches, discoloration, damage and repairs will lower value. Well preserved cameos in excellent condition fetch higher prices.

Mounting – Valuable materials like gold, platinum or silver mountings, along with ornate filigree or gemstone accents, increase worth. Damage, repairs or replacements decrease it.

Provenance – Cameos that come with documentation on past ownership or history add context that boosts interest and value for collectors.

Valuing different types of cameo brooches

The most common types of cameo brooches and their typical values:

Type Typical Value
Antique Georgian/Victorian (100+ years old) $200-$2000+ depending on materials, condition, etc
Vintage Art Deco/Retro (1920s-1950s) $50-$500+ depending on designer, materials, subject
Contemporary (1970s-now) $20-$100+ depending on materials, craftsmanship
Plastic mass produced Under $20

Of course, exceptional examples in any category could exceed typical price ranges. Have an appraisal done to properly authenticate and value more significant pieces.

Where to sell cameo brooches

Top options for selling your cameo brooch include:

Auction houses – Major auctioneers like Christie’s, Sotheby’s or regional houses are best for highly valuable antique or vintage cameos worth over $500. They reach targeted collectors but take high commissions.

Online marketplaces – eBay, 1st Dibs, Rubylane, Etsy connect with broad audiences of jewelry buyers. Best for selling mid-range priced vintage or contemporary cameos under $500. Lower commissions but you handle shipping, returns, etc.

Jewelry stores – Local jewelers or vintage stores may buy cameos outright as inventory, especially cheaper contemporary pieces under $100. Offers are usually 40-60% of retail value. Quick sale but least profit.

Collectors – Finding collectors of Victorian, Art Deco or cameo jewelry can yield direct sales with higher returns than wholesale. Advertise on niche forums, social media groups.

Pawn shops – Fast option for very low-end plastic or damaged cameos worth under $50. Extremely low offers, only recommended if you need quick cash.


With their distinctive carved portraits and historic origins, quality cameo brooches can be very valuable jewelry collecting niches like Victorian or Art Deco antiques. Even plastic retro revivals have modest worth. Study the style, materials, subject, craftsmanship and condition of your cameo brooch closely when assessing its value. Seek professional appraisals for authenticating any expensive or rare pieces. With patience you can find specialized buyers willing to pay fair prices to add your unique cameo to their collections.