A Western Asiatic Banded Agate Bead Pendant, ca. 1st millennium BCE
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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. Known as the Earth's rainbow, 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.
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.
Dimensions: Bead length: 2.8 cm (1.1 inches), set as a pendant on a modern 18-inch tarnish-resistant sterling silver chain.
Condition: Hand-carved and polished to a fine soft sheen, with finely rounded edges, a central chip to one side, minor accretions and wear that does not detract. The agate overall is intact and in very good condition overall.
Provenance: S. Brown, London private collection, acquired in the 1970s.