Antique Yemen Silver Bead Pendant Signed by Silversmith on Sterling
This one is indeed signed as was the traditional practice. The bead has been worn a lot and the signature is quite worn, as are the decorations on the bead. It is thereby graced with a beautifully balanced patina. It has been in our collection for several years and we have never polished it, only buffed it lightly with a soft cloth. Moreover, it had not been polished with chemicals before we collected it.
It is an eyecatching adornment and needs no other surrounding decoration. So I simply fashioned a sterling silver wire choker or torq and hung the lovely old bead on it. The bead itself was made of coin silver from the Maria Theresa thaler of the Hapsburg Empire, a coin that was being used by Europeans from about the mid-1800s to the early 1900s to buy Yemen exports such as coffee and frankincense.
It was for this substance and for the coffee beans -- some of which were roasted 'arabica' style in Yemen before export -- that the Europeans brought the silver thalers from which this bead and the smaller bead baubles were made. Agates such as carnelian and quartz are also highly prized in Yemen. The Yemenis still export the clear quartz agate beads that do not show the large crystals as might be expected of quartz; rather they are somehow clear and smooth in appearance. The carnelians on this pendant are not from Yemen; They are from India. They bear the characteristics of handmade beads, in that the bead hole was bored by hand. It does not go straight through the small carnelian beads and it is quite a bit smaller at the interior joining of the bore that was made first from one side of the bead and then from the other.
Pendant Measurements: 35 mm x 84 mm (1.4 in x 3.25 in, including carnelians and small silver baubles)
Torq Length: 18 inches (46 cm)