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Four Thousand Year Old Chalcedony and Agate Barrel Beads with Carnelian and Gold Spacers




Chalcedony, Agate, Carnelian, 20k gold


The necklace is 28 1/8 inches (71 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 65.8 gm.







A necklace of twenty-three agate barrel beads alternating with twenty-four round carnelian beads. Each of these carnelian beads is faced with two gold granulated ring beads, forty-eight in total. Gold beading tips and a hook and eye clasp complete the necklace. Four of the agate barrels have the profile of Indus Valley beads (the seventh beads down from the back of the necklace and the pair facing the center bead); the two bicones meet with a distinct line in the center of the bead. The rest have a rounded rounded transition in the middle which is more typical of beads found to the north in what is now Afghanistan. These may be somewhat later, but the agate beads are contemporaneous from the Bronze Age of about four thousand years ago. The carnelian beads are more difficult to place. The flattened sphere shape is seen in many periods and places, however the large diameters of the drill holes would place them at an early date. There are two exceptions: one is a truncated bicone (5.5mm in length-9.5mm wide) to the right of the center bead and the other is a five sided carnelian (5.5mm wide, 4.5mm in length) at the very back of the necklace on the right side. The first may be Sumerian and be very early. The second is probably later from Kushan times about two thousand years ago. Sixteen of the largest gold ring beads have inner granulated rings, providing a hole in the very center of the opening, in order to insure that all the beads hang in a straight row. There are also very small glass beads used as fillers inside some of the agate beads that have very large holes. Ideally, all the beads have holes that are the same size and the string used that will still go through all the holes can be as large as possible. This not only makes all the beads hang properly, but it also reduces wear in the string. When the holes are not uniform, filler beads can help to make the necklace work.