The coloured beads were individually crafted during the later New Kingdom, which is regarded as Egypt’s most prosperous period, and includes the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties. Some of Egypt’s greatest Pharaohs ruled during the New period: Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, and Rameses III, to name but a few. The beads are made of faience: a highly fired, glazed ceramic, which was known for its beautiful and lavish colours. It was formed of silica (sand or crushed quarts) alongside small amounts of sodium and calcium. Colouring agents, such as copper or cobalt, could then be added to achieve the rich colour tones adored by the ancients.
Some form of jewellery was worn by all social classes in Ancient Egypt, and by both men and women. It commonly displayed a beautiful spectrum of colours, and incorporated a variety of media, from wood and wax to gold and rich gemstones. Those of a lower status often attempted to emulate the lavish jewellery of the elite by using glass in place of gemstones.
To find out more about the use of faience in Ancient Egyptian culture please see our relevant blog post: What is Egyptian Faience?