A Western Asiatic Banded Agate Bead & Gold Cap Pendant, ca mid 1st millennium BCE
With its extra-fine bands set in a soft matrix of white and maroon-brown, agate was highly prized in ancient times for its scarcity, energy, and beauty. It has been set in ancient high karat gold (23-24K) gold caps, each cap decorated with fine granulation in the form of triangles, a suspension loop on each cap for stringing.
Of barrel-shaped form, no doubt this pendant had great value as an exquisite and luxurious object illustrating the refinement and genius of the ancient artisan. The process of extraction, transportation, and craftsmanship of these beautiful hard stones required hours of labor, and such jewelry was therefore reserved for social elites such as the royal family and high-ranking officials.
Known as the earths' rainbow, agate was used as healing amulets and ornamentation dating back to ancient Babylon. The ancient Egyptians discovered it in pebble form and used it for protection. During ancient times, agate was used as a talisman to improve attention to detail, increase positivity, bring good luck, and awaken a sense of adventure. It is used to balance emotional, physical, and intellectual energy, and harmonize the positive and negative forces of the universe.
Condition: Hand-carved and polished to a fine soft sheen, minor wear that does not detract, the bead caps professionally rejoined and stabilized. The pendant is intact and in very good condition overall.
Dimensions: Pendant width: 1 5/8 inches (4 cm), mounted on a long, modern 28-inch (71 cm) 14K gold chain.
Provenance: S.B., London private collection, acquired in the 1970s.
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