What’s It Worth? Intaglio Jewelry

Intaglio jewelry can be traced as far back as 5000 BC and comes in many materials, from inexpensive synthetic stones to amethyst and carnelian.

An intaglio is a recessed image that has been carved into the back of a stone – the reverse of a cameo, which protrudes from the front of the stone. At the turn of the 19th century, a hand-carved semi-precious gem intaglio was a rare and treasured possession. As cameo jewelry grew in popularity, intaglios were used mostly for seals or impressions on important documents. With the introduction of gummed envelopes and postage stamps, the need for wax seals – and intaglio art – dropped off.

Quality of carving and age make a huge difference in valuation of intaglios. The 14K gold amethyst version pictured is American circa 1910 and is only valued at $800-$1,200. The 1790s carnelian pictured is more valuable because it is older, larger and 18K gold with French hallmarks. It depicts a Greco-Roman scene of lovers with cupid and has an auction estimate of $3,000-5,000.

Many dealers don’t understand the true value of these pieces. Bring in your family heirlooms for an appraisal and offer.

Comments, questions or suggestions for this column, please send to jeffreyphess@aol.com.

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