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Gold Necklace with Ancient Capped Carnelian Bead Center




Carnelian, 20k gold


The necklace is 17 13/16 inches (45.3 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 41.5 gm.







A short necklace featuring a gold capped long carnelian barrel bead strung with two hundred fifty granulated gold ring beads. Two small carnelian beads face the gold capped center bead; there are two smaller gold capped carnelian barrel beads at the back of the necklace. Gold beading tips and a hook and eye clasp complete the necklace. The gold capped center bead is 6.8 cm in length and 8.1 mm in diameter at the center of the bead. The drill hole diameter is 3.5 mm. The caps are 1.7cm in length and 7.2 mm in diameter. The two small carnelian beads that face the center capped bead are 4.25 mm in diameter and 2 mm in length. The granulated ring beads are 3.8 mm 3.5 mm in diameter graduating to smaller size to the back of the necklace. The capped carnelian beads at the back of the necklace are 1.82 mm and 1.9 mm in length. The carnelian beads are 3.8 mm in diameter. The diameter of the drill holes is 1.8 mm. There are two larger granulated ring beads between each of the capped carnelians and the beading tips, both two layers of six grains. These are 5 mm in diameter. There are two single layer beads of this size facing the small carnelian beads next to the ends of the gold caps of the center bead. The beading tips are cylinders with one open end, the other pierced for the string to pass through, the knots being hidden within the cylinders. Circlets of wire attach to the sides of these cylinders and pass over the open end and provide the attachments points for the hook and eye clasp. The gold is all 20k. The center bead is a long barrel carnelian tube bead from the Indus Valley, located in present day Pakistan and India. The constricted cylinder drills that made it possible to drill such long holes, and bead making debris have been found at the workshop city of Chanhudaro in the Indus Valley. There is also evidence of production of these beads at two great urban centers, Mohenjodaro and Harappa. They may have only been made between 2450 to 1900 BC at Chanhudaro, a period of just a few hundred years. Constricted cylinder drills were less likely to seize up during the drilling of the hole, but often the holes were stepped to smaller sizes as they progressed, sometimes leaving three channels within the bead, each smaller than the last and then stepping up to a larger size (or sizes) from the center out to the end of the bead. Unfortunately, pushing this technology to the limit resulted in very thin walls at the ends of the beads which are often chipped. Gold caps both protect the ends and hide damage as is the case with this bead. Although one end was broken, large caps have restored the beauty of this ancient masterpiece of lapidary work. When illuminated from behind, the layers in the carnelian are clearly visible. A small amount whitening from long exposure to alkaline soil is visible on one end of the bead. It has only affected the layers in the banding which are presumably less dense or more porous and can absorb water. There are two hundred fifty gold ring beads in the necklace. These are made up of six granules which have been fused together by means of the granulation process. This technique, used in the ancient world, allows high carat gold (and silver) to be fused without the use of solder. Very fine detailed work can be accomplished by this means, which would not be possible by other techniques of joining. When small pieces of gold wire are heated to a molten state, the surface tension of the liquid metal automatically produces a spherical shape. One thousand five hundred such granules went into the making of this necklace.