A Hellenistic Gold Strap Necklace, ca. 3rd - 2nd century BCE
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The strap of this stunning gold necklace is composed of five loop-in-loop chains connected with double cross-linking and terminal caps at each end of the strap. At the bottom edge of the necklace hangs a fringe of beechnut shaped pendants, each with granules at the tips and a miniature columnar base. Rosettes in the form of gentle six-petal flowers add to the floral motif and serve to discreetly mask the point at which each pendant is attached. The caps at either end of the necklace are decorated with a single similar rosette and etched leaves; ringlets curl at the edge of the terminal that meets the strap.
Many hundreds of joining operations were necessary to link the gold in the strap of this necklace together in a remarkable process that involved neither soldering nor melting the delicate gold. The craftsmanship of this piece is superb.
A prevalent style of necklace during the fourth century BC, strap necklaces with a fringe of identical pendants have long been a part of ancient Greek jewelry and can be found depicted on vases of the Hellenistic Period. In fact, this necklace-type has been discovered in many areas of the Greek world, including southern Italy, Asia Minor, and the Northern Pontus region (around the Black Sea). Similar pieces are on display in both The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The British Museum.
For related examples see: Alexander, Christine. 1928. Jewelry: The Art of the Goldsmith in Classical Times as Illustrated in the Museum Collection. p. 12, fig. 15, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Williams, Dyfri and Jack Ogden. 1994. Greek Gold: Jewelry of the Classical World. no. 68, pp. 116-17, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Condition: Intact and in very good condition overall.
Dimensions: Length: 39.2 cm (15.4 inches)
Provenance: Ex. private United Kingdom collection acquired in 1933. Ex. private Rotterdam, Netherlands collection, acquired in 1955. Ex. private Amsterdam collection acquired in 1972, and then by descent. Accompanied by original sale invoices.