Limited Edition Mummy Bead Gold Necklace
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This numbered, limited edition necklace features a single, barrel-shaped Egyptian faience bead presented on a 14kt Gold-Filled cable necklace measuring 18" inches (~45cm). The first batches of this limited edition item are ready to ship and only 175 will be made.
The barrel-shaped beads used for this limited edition necklace measure 1/2 to 5/8” (12-16mm). The beads date to the 1st century BCE and were acquired from the former collection of Simon Ohan Simonian, an antiquities dealer in Alexandria, Egypt throughout the 20th century. Disc-shaped beads included in this collection were used in the creation of the Fourth Edition of the Mini Museum.
The complete necklace comes in a decorative box and includes a small information card about the specimen with the handwritten limited edition number.
Please Note: While we've done our very best to ensure that each necklace is beautiful, color and shape will vary as each bead was handmade thousands of years ago. As a result, your necklace will be absolutely unique.
About Egyptian Faience
Egyptian faience is made of silica, ash, and lime. The silica came from sand or quartz pebbles, natron or ash provided the alkali, and limestone contributed the lime. Craftsmen would pulverize the materials, combining them with copper, cobalt, magnesium, and other metals to create a powder which they then made into a malleable paste. When fired, metallic oxides migrated through the porous material, cooling at the surface, and leaving behind the rich colors and glass-like surface.
In the largely pre-literate ancient world, colors had intense cultural, social, and communicative value. The vibrant blues and blue-greens of Egyptian faience were no exception. For Egyptians, the bright shimmery blue of these objects spoke of the heavens, water, life, and rebirth. The color was imbued with spiritual significance and a sense of magic.
Faience first emerged in Mesopotamia during the 5th millennium BCE. Egyptian artisans began working with it the following millennium. During the Predynastic Era, production techniques were relatively simple. Craftsmen shaped objects by hand, then carved and abraded them to create detail after the drying process was complete. A copper-infused glaze applied before firing gave Egyptian faience its characteristic shine and color. The Egyptian word for this material speaks volumes. They called it "tjehenet" which roughly translates to dazzling or brilliant.
Above: From the Vatican Gregorian Egyptian Museum
The middle of the 2nd millennium BCE witnessed an explosion of faience production in Egypt. Artisans began using clay molds to work with the material, and a new method of glazing, efflorescence, became popular. Instead of applying glaze after the shaping of an object, craftsmen began including glazing materials in the paste itself. The use of molds and the innovation of adding glaze directly to the paste led to the mass production of faience products, including rings, amulets, and tiles.
The history of faience is tightly linked to the importance of visual symbols in a world in which most people could neither read nor write. Elites relied on visual imagery to communicate their wealth and legitimize their power. Ancient Mesopotamians were fond of using gold for this purpose. The scarcity of gold in Mesopotamia led to the development of trade routes designed to obtain the precious metal. Egypt had the gold the elites of Babylon and other Mesopotamian city-states wanted. Artisans familiar with faience production and faience objects themselves flowed along trade routes and eventually made their way to Egypt.
Please Note: As mentioned above, all of the gold components of this necklace are 14kt Gold-Filled. Gold-filled items are not solid gold alloy but rather a layered material that is created by bonding gold alloy to a base metal using heat and pressure. This mechanical method allows for precise control of the amount of gold (5% of weight by law). It also provides a durable surface that far outlasts chemical gold-plating, which on average transfers less than 0.05% gold alloy to the base metal.
Acquisition: As noted above, the beads come from the former collection of Simon Ohan Simonian. Simonian was an antiquities dealer in Alexandria, Egypt in the early to mid 20th century. The collection traveled with the family to Switzerland in the 1960s and in the years since has passed into numerous private and public hands. The acquisition was made possible through a private dealer in Washington, DC who is also a member of the American Research Center in Egypt and the Association of Dealers & Collectors of Ancient & Ethnographic Art.