Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yemen Silver Jewelry with New Beads

When lovely old pieces of jewelry are separated from their original adornment, they can still be made the focus of a new creation in the old tradition or in a modern translation, as it were.  In this design, I kept the old tradition of making a kirdan or dowry necklace in the same form and with materials that would have been available at the time the original pieces were made.

The focus of the this design is a fantastically intricate plaque and hirz or mezuzah combination made by a Jewish silversmith in Yemen in the early 1900s.


Antique Yemen Silver mezuzah with four strands of modern coral
$650.00 U.S. CONTACT ME for invoice or for more information using the private message form above left. 

The amulet - or mezuzah or hirz - became an orphan piece of fine ethnic silver workmanship. The same had happened to the plaque on which the small amulet now hangs. So my first task in assembling this piece was to attach the amulet onto the plaque which had lost its central loops on which its amulet had hung. So I used heavy gauge sterling silver filled wire to repair the loss of the loops.  Now the mezuzah hangs straight and secure on the bottom of the plaque.  The decorations on each piece match very well, with their heavily granulated silver surface.  



Full view of antique Yemen silver mezuzah necklace 
$650.00 U.S. CONTACT ME for invoice or for more information using the private message form above left.

The next task was to find compatible beads of silver with a patina of age to match the antique silver of the ethnic Yemeni Jewish silver. I found some old silver separator bead from Yemen in my ethnic bead collection and that problem was settled. Next, I found my stash of some old silver over brass accent beads from India. 

But then I had to find enough of the customary size of coral that the Yemenites had strung on their kirdan necklaces. The kirdan was part of the bridal dowry and the bride would wear it on her wedding day and at family celebrations. I started pawing through my bead trays again. Voila! I found dyed red Pacific coral beads in exactly the same size and shape that had been used in the traditional Yemeni bridal kirdan necklaces with their multiple strands of Mediterranean coral. 

Next I wanted some neutral colors to cool down the intensity of the very red coral so that it did not overpower the glow of the old silver. For that I chose two different sizes of natural beads in black and white: black onyx and white bone beads. I also added two Indian agate eye beads in natural bands of black and white. 

So as not to overweigh the wearer of the necklace, but to make it large and imposing as the kirdans were made, I reduced the side strands of the necklace to just two. I connected the four strand section to the side sections with hand made sterling silver filled figure 8 loops. The chain is a handmade chain from Yemen, including the old handmade figure 8 loop fastener. 

This is a fantastic kirdan style necklace with genuine antique ethnic silver included. You can make a spectacular entrance wearing this with dress-up or jeans. 

Measurements: Necklace length: 24 inches (61 cm)
Plaque and amulet: 2 in x 3 in (5 cm x 8 cm)

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$650.00 U.S. CONTACT ME for invoice or for more information using the private message form above left.

12 comments:

  1. This is a fantastic "refurbished" or re-vitalized piece in the antique Yemine style. Your selections do justice to the gorgeous centerpiece. I especially appreciate your knowledge and care in giving the plaque new life.

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  2. Thank you, Pamela. I appreciate your comments. I discover how a visitor sees my blog. You have a sharp eye ;)

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  3. I am always fascinated by your collections and knowledge of these antiquities of other cultures. I always find it interesting to read about the history and what you do to re-make some of these historical pieces. Well done on both the necklace and the post! :)

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  4. Thanks, Nikki! I am always gratified when I meet people who appreciate the style of adornment that we find in other cultures.

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  5. Wow - what a wonderful piece and labor of love! It must be great to use your knowledge of the culture and these antiquities - plus your past work in the field - to create such beauty! :)

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    1. Thank you for the warm praise, Mary. I really appreciate encouragement from my friends. It is high motivation for more frequent blogging ;)

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  6. You have such immense knowledge of the culture, gems and craftwork. Very impressed. Lovely work, Anna!

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    1. Thank you, Gunilla. My husband spent time in Yemen twice while we were in the Foreign Service. We had the good fortune to have acquaintances in Yemen after that time. We also corresponded with the curator of the Yemenite Jewish section of the Israel's National Museum. She had done a tremendous amount of research and had written a book about the Yemenite Jewish culture. I had a copy so I could learn all these things through Ester.

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  7. How wonderful that you could find just the right beads to reconstruct this amazing necklace in the traditional style! It certainly is a statement piece and will be quite the find for the right buyer!

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    1. I was happy to find just the right size and enough of them to fill in all those strands! Thanks for the comment, Debbie.

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  8. Another piece of art, Anna. The necklace has so much of historical values and one that owns it would be so lucky. Boy, you must have a lot of beads because you seem to be able to find all the beads that you need :-) And I know you can always make some too, lol. I envy your skills.

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    1. Thank you, Natalie, for that sweet comment. I have many, many pounds of beads. I have been collecting them since I was quite young. From India, the Congo, Australia, you name it, I've got it ;)

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