Egyptian Carnelian Shell Pendants Necklace with Gold
Carnelian, 20k gold
The necklace is 18 inches (45.7 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 20.5 gm.
A necklace of twenty-three carnelian shells faced with cylindrical gold tube beads alternating with small carnelian beads. A set of gold beading tips and a hook and eye clasp complete the necklace. The shell pendants are ancient Egyptian and said to be from Tel Amarna c. 1400 BC. The shells are 1.4 cm in height, 1 cm in width, 3.2 mm in thickness, with drill holes of 1 mm. The small carnelian beads are 3mm in diameter. The gold tubes are 6 mm in length and 2 mm in diameter. The gold is 20k. Shells have been used as jewelry since the earliest times and the ancient Egyptians used several types of shells as ornaments. Early forms of jewelry (by that I mean anything used to adorn the human body) used perishable items such as flowers, the hollowed out bodies of scarab beetles as well as shells, and rendering the forms in more permanent materials soon occurred. These shell pendants are an excellent example and show the precision and consistency of their lapidary work. The carnelian is well chosen for its color and the shells have been carefully made. The shells were highly polished before seven or eight grooves were cut into each surface to depict the scallop shell. The back sides of the shells have been carved out as carefully as the front sides have been shaped, allowing more light to come through and reducing the weight of each piece. There is no appreciable damage or wear to the pieces; they appear to have hardly been worn. The drill holes go straight through the stems and do not meet in the middle, having been drilled from each side, as is the case with drilling in the Near East and Indian subcontinent. Although the shells are very consistent in size and shape, it is evident that each piece was individually crafted. There are very minor irregularities in the forms from piece to piece, but they are essentially identical and display the high level of craftsmanship that can be found in ancient Egyptian jewelry. The shells are said to come from Tel Amarna c. 1400 BC. This is the New Kingdom Period, Dynasty XVIII, and famous for the reign of Tuthmosis III. With the discovery of the tomb of Tut-ankh-amun, the boy king who ruled at the end of Dynasty XVIII, by Howard Carter, this period has become well known to the modern world. Also from this period is the controversial king Akhenaten, who has garnered much attention in the twentieth century for his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to abolish the pantheon of Egyptian gods and to promote the exclusive worship of the sun.