Near Eastern Carnelian and Gold Necklace


A restrung Near Eastern necklace consisting of alternating carnelian and gold beads. The piece consists of spherical carnelian beads interspersed with long oblong gold beads, starting with smaller beads at the top which continue to increase in size. The necklace is enriched by a large central banded, agate bead, perhaps an amulet, incised with linear patterns, forming a grid like design. To the reverse, the bead is carved with straight lines intersecting each other, forming a diamond pattern within an enclosed incised rectangle. The bead is flanked by two long faceted carnelian beads, each demonstrating flecks of dark colour, adding further richness to the piece. The necklace is finished with a modern gold-plated, S-shaped clasp.

Half Length: 24cm

Date: Circa 2nd Millennium - 1st Millennium BC
Condition: Very fine condition, necklace has been restrung

In stock

SKU: SM-60 Category: Tags: , ,

Many grand civilisations inhabited the area of Western Asia in antiquity, and their wealth and prosperity is witnessed by the very sophisticated precious metal crafting of jewellery. Gold would have been hammered down to a thin layer and manipulated into different shapes. Fine granulation, along with filigree, were at the centre of Near Eastern and Western Asiatic jewellery production and were later adopted by the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans. Precious and semi-precious stones were also widely used.

Carnelian is a translucent variant of chalcedony, and ranges in colour from light orange to dark brown. It is slightly softer than the likes of sard, and so is ideal for carving. The colour of stones was important in antiquity, with some varieties considered, through sympathetic magic, to increase fertility, ease childbirth, and provide relief and protection from afflictions (such as scorpion bites, stomach ailments, and eye disease). Written sources list a host of powers attributed to stones, for instance protection against the evil eye, the guarantee of safe travel, a better understanding of rhetoric, and even victory in court. In ancient Greece and Rome, carnelian in particular was believed to enhance passion, love, and desire. Fine jewellery was used as a status symbol in ancient cultures, and to possess a complete a set of beads in such good condition is truly a rarity.

To discover more about gemstones in Antiquity, please visit our relevant blog post: The History and Mythology of Jewellery in Antiquity.

Weight 44.2 g
Dimensions L 47.5 cm



Semi-Precious Stones


Reference: For similar bead shapes: Bonhams Auction House, London, Antiquities, 5th October 2011, lot 457

You may also like…