Ancient Sardonyx Trapezoidal Tabular Beads with Gold
Sardonyx, 24k gold
The necklace is 18 9/16 inches (47 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 20.2 gm.
A necklace of thirty-five rhomboid tabular agate beads alternating with pairs of granulated gold ring beads. Gold beading tips and a hook and eye clasp complete the necklace. The gold is 24k. The agate is composed of transparent and opaque white quartz and translucent orange carnelian. Due to burial in alkaline soil, there has been an addition of an opaque flat white color, caused by a chemical reaction over a long period of time. Differences in the density and porosity of the layers in the agate results in an uneven and sometimes splotchy addition of flat opaque white to the surface. The flat agate beads are Bronze Age from present day Afghanistan and have a consistent form: they are either a symmetrical rhombus – a diamond shape- or an elongated rhombus with one end up to 50% longer. They are almost always bisected across the points with one side being opaque white or orange and the other end being transparent quartz. When one end is elongated, it is the transparent end. If the bead is an agate with carnelian and clear transparent quartz, again, it is the elongated end that is transparent. This is clearly an intentional effect with some kind of symbolic referent and meaning, but it is lost to us in time. Although these beads have sometimes been referred to as “butterfly” beads, it seems doubtful to us that this is the meaning. The beads are about four thousand years old. Beads of this form were also present in ancient Mesopotamia.