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Ancient Triple Strand of Lapis and Carnelian Beads with Gold Terminals




Carnelian, Lapis Lazuli, 20k gold


The necklace is 31 1/8 inches (79 cm) in length. The length at the inner strand is 28 inches (71 cm). The necklace weighs 74.9 gm.







A necklace of eighty-six carnelian beads alternating with eighty-three lapis lazuli beads strung in three cascading strands: the stone beads are all alternating with 20k gold granulated ring beads. There are two gold terminals into which the three strands, each 4 cm longer than the one above it, converge. The terminals are boxes with a rounded top and a square bottom which is bordered with three gold wires. On the bottom there are three round openings into which the strands are strung. These openings are encircled with a double stack of gold grains, the bottom one being slightly smaller than the upper. At the top of the box is affixed another gold bead at the perforation, this one is three layered with the center ring being larger than the two bordering it. The gold terminal facilitates the gathering of the three strands into one strand which then clasps behind the neck. The box is decorated with a round raised boss which is bordered by a gold wire with the same curvature as the top edge of the box. Inside the perimeter of the gold wire is a circular line of gold granules. The carnelian beads are of two shapes. The beads in the single strand that emerges from the top of the terminal are four sided with the opposing sides being triangles that align. The remaining two sides are also opposing triangles which point in the opposite direction. If the beads are rotated ninety degrees around the axis of the drill hole, the isosceles triangles point in the opposite direction. The carnelian beads in the three strands are triangular in cross section, wider in the middle and tapering on the ends. The four sided beads are 4- 6 mm in length, 4.5 6 mm in width, the beads graduating in length to the shortest at the back of the necklace. The triangular cross section carnelian beads in the three strands are 1.1 cm in length at the center and graduate slightly in length towards the terminals where they are 8 mm in length. The carnelian beads are 3 -4 mm in width. The lapis lazuli beads are all round shapes which again graduate slightly in size towards the back of the necklace. The largest are 5 mm in length and the smallest are 3 mm. The beads are not true spheres: the width of the beads is slightly more than the length. This is perceived by the eye to be round. The diameters of the drill holes of the stone beads is 1mm. The color of the lapis lazuli is a deep blue and the color of the carnelian is a very reddish orange which contrasts with the lapis to produce, when combined with the 20k gold, a very lavish appearance. The archaic form of the three cascading strands ending in gold terminals is the result of having a set of beads that match in shape and color that can be employed in this design. The deep saturated contrasting colors and the gleam of high carat gold would have been appreciated in old Babylonia.