A Roman Carnelian Faceted Bead Pendant, ca 1st century CE
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The most favorable pieces of carnelian are a deep red to red-orange hue, and this carnelian faceted is a wonderful example of type. Painstakingly hand-carved, drilled and polished in Roman times, the stone itself graduates from pale orange to a band overall.
Carnelian stones, which were immensely popular throughout Greco-Roman antiquity, originated from deposits in the Arabian Peninsula and India. Like the Egyptians and the Greeks, the Romans believed that cornelian 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.
Condition: Recently strung a pendant with 18K white gold chain that can be adjusted, the bead is intact and in good condition overall.
Dimensions: Bead width: 1.43cm (0.56 inches). Strung on an adjustable 18-inch chain of 18K white gold.
Provenance: Private Californian collection, acquired in the mid-1960s and then by descent to present owner.