Gold Necklace with Ancient Tabular Agate Eye Bead
Carnelian, Agate, 20k gold
The necklace is 16 5/8 inches (42.3 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 23.7 gm.
A necklace of two hundred fifty six-ball granulated ring spacers, four tabular carnelian beads and a tabular agate ”eye”bead. The eye bead is 2.3 cm in diameter and 5.9 mm in thickness. The diameter of the drill hole is 2 mm. The bead is slightly domed on the front side. This has left the top sides of the drill hole thin and vulnerable to chipping, which has occurred. We have remedied this problem by inserting gold tubes inside the drill hole. This both protects the bead and allows it to hang properly. The two tabular carnelian beads to either side of the center bead are 7.25 mm in length and width. They are 3 mm in thickness and have drill hole diameters of 1 mm. The pair of tabular carnelian beads at the back of the necklace are slightly smaller: length 6.5 mm, thickness 2.7 mm - 3.2 mm. The granulated ring beads are 2.8 mm in diameter. A pair of beading tips and a hook and eye clasp complete the necklace. The beading tips are cylinders with one open end, the other end with a hole for the string to pass through. The knots are hidden inside the cylinders. At the open end are two circlets of gold wire which attach to the sides of the cylinders. These provide the attachment loops for the hook and eye clasp. The gold is 20k. The granulation process used to make the 250 ring beads is ancient. The technique was lost and had to be rediscovered in modern times. It is a way to fuse high carat gold (and silver) without the use of solder. However, it requires time and patience. Fifteen hundred individual grains had to be made and then fused in hexagonal rings to produce this necklace. The focal point of the necklace is the spectacular eye bead. The agate is layered with six colors: translucent quartz, light brown, dark brown, white, yellow, orange and dark brown. By doming the front side, each of these layers in revealed as a concentric circle, thereby forming the “eye.” This eye was believed to have the magical power of protecting the wearer from harm, specifically, the “evil eye,” or a curse from an adversary. It has the function of bedazzling the malefactor's eye, of compelling the gaze of the adversary to go to the eye bead and thereby deflecting the harm. This very widespread belief still persists to this day in the Near East and in Central Asia. Perhaps it is because we are preconditioned, as infants, to seek out our mother's eyes, that we automatically are drawn to the pattern of the concentric circles. A back view of the tabular eye bead clearly shows the drill hole with the inserted gold tubes. The dark brown and white layers were removed in the drill channel leaving the translucent quartz layer intact. The back side of the bead is as handsome and interesting as the front side. It is unusual to have the orange color along with the dark brown or black, brown and white colors that are typically seen in this kind of bead. The bead is striking and dramatic in its visual impact.