A Roman Carnelian Bead Pendant, ca. 1st century CE
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Hand-carved from fine carnelian, this gorgeous barrel-shaped bead is polished to a soft shine.
Carnelian crystals such as this example were immensely popular in Greek and Roman times, originating from deposits in the Arabian Peninsula and India. Like the Egyptians and the Greeks, the Romans believed carnelian was endowed with magical powers; it caused the blood to circulate smoothly throughout the body, made the skin healthy and youthful, and was capable of warding off evil. Once considered strictly the property of the noble class, Romans of high social status were often buried with this gemstone. Ancient warriors wore carnelian for courage and physical power to conquer their enemies. Since wearing carnelian also makes one feel peaceful and slow to anger, it was often worn by orators to achieve serenity before and during speeches. It is theorized that the color orange is the harmonious balance of passionate, creative red and bright, cheerful yellow, making it particularly soothing to wear.
Dimensions: Strung on a 16-inch silver chain
Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall.
Provenance: Private NY collection, acquired from Sumer Gallery NY in 1982.