Due to the hardness of quartz, which is measured as seven out of ten, as opposed to organic material, such as helmet shell, which is measured as two out of ten on the Mohs Hardness scale, many fantastic hardstone cameos have withstood the test of time compared to the softer, more easily damaged organic cameos.
Hardstone cameos of great artistry have been recovered, dating back as far as the third century BC.The detail achievable on what is known as hardstone cameos can be both exquisitely delicate and intricately carved. Utilizing the contrasting colours found naturally in many quartz minerals such as sardonyx and banded agates, the artist can create a boldly contrasting or delicately multi layered, coloured portrait, sometimes retaining three or even four colours.
Hardstone cameos are difficult & time consuming to carve, thus requiring the extraordinary skill, patience and artistic vision of master crafts people and fetching high prices, both presently and historically. The motifs used in hardstone cameos often include classical beauties and neo-classical Grecian and Roman scenes.