Four Thousand Year Old Agate Barrel Beads with Complex Gold Spacers
Agate, Carnelian, Red Jasper, 20k gold
The necklace is 23 ¼ inches (59 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 51.5 gm.
A necklace of seventeen long agate barrel beads alternating with gold beads made by granulation, a process of joining together high carat gold without the use of solder. The agates are biconical with a distinct line in the center where the wide ends of the cone shapes meet. This distinctive profile is unique to beads made in the Indus valley civilization four thousand years ago in what is now Pakistan and India. This shape along with drill hole diameters of 3mm to 4mm are the unmistakable identification points for these beads, some of the finest lapidary ever done in the history of bead making. The end walls at the drill holes are often less than one millimeter thick making them very vulnerable to damage. The beads in this necklace are in remarkably good condition; only one bead has a very slight chip on one end and only only one bead has a small chipped out triangle of material missing from the wall at the end. This has been repaired by inserting a gold tube which allows the bead to hang straight. Two small carnelian beads, one a bicone of 5.5mm diameter and length of 3.5 mm and hole diameter of 2.8mm is very finely made. Another which is 6mm in diameter and 3.5 mm in length and hole diameter of 2.3 mm is less crisply shaped being more rounded. There are sixteen gold granulated beads that graduate in size becoming smaller at the back of the necklace. Each bead is composed of five stacked rings of eight grains, the largest in the center and decreasing in size from the center to the outsides. There are two eight grain ring beads at the back of the necklace. The beading tips are rings of wire with a granule on each side which connects to a stirrup of flattened wire. This provides the attachment for the hook and eye clasp.