Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Restoring a Yemen Dowry Necklace

Restoring an antique relic of a vanished culture is intimidating.  Fortunately, I had access to appropriate jewelry elements that my family had collected through the years.  Here is a close up view of the final restoration of a Yemen dowry necklace.


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All the ornate bead caps, the signed starburst pattern large hollow silver beads and the Bedihi beads as well as the necklace terminals had been preserved, but the faturan or synthetic amber beads that had rested between the caps and the small separator beads, typically of coral, were no longer with the silver  components.  

Here is a more complete view of the now finished bridal dowry necklace from Yemen in the period around 1900 or a bit later.   I searched through my collection of faturan amber beads to find the ones that fit the ornate bead caps.  I find the European bakelite beads of that era very appealing, as did the jewelers of Yemen in the period of 1920 to 1940.  These particular synthetic amber beads were made in the late 1900s, but they were appropriate in color and size and could be used to good effect in restoring this fine piece of Yemen jewelry.  

The small translucent agate beads are from Yemen.  The people of Yemen had prized agate beads from ancient times; the small cloudy gems harmonize culturally with the other beads and serve as  buffers between the ornate silver pieces.  By happenstance, I had an appropriate silver chain on which to hang my restored necklace. 

The old starburst beads show that the necklace on which they originally hung was worn a long time.  The signatures of the maker or makers are quite worn, but still recognizable as the archaic Arabic alphabet that was still being used in Yemen at that time.  



In the close up view above, you see the faint stamped cartouches of the silversmith who made that particular bead.  Also note the cloudy translucent Yemen agate beads and the very special and now rare Bedihi beads.  While you are viewing this close up, don't overlook the exquisite terminals on this necklace.  They are gems in themselves.  

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12 comments:

  1. What a wonderful feeling you must have had to be able to restore this ancient necklace to it's former beauty! The workmanship of the silver is exquisite, and the accent beads are truly lovely.

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    1. Thank you, Debbie. Actually, I was holding my breath until I found all the right stuff to go with the orphan silver components ;)

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  2. Anna, I have been sitting here staring at the necklace for several minutes now, almost at a loss of words for how ravishing it is in its color, texture and exquisite workmanship. Oh, to know the story behind the hands that created the individual pieces! Thank you for sharing. This necklace will be stuck in my mind, methinks.

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    1. Thank you for such a warm and supportive comment on my restored necklace.

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  3. Really fascinating to read how you restored this magnificent necklace. The amber-colored beads are so warm and rich! And I love those terminals, which you mentioned. They really add something to the whole for me - make me think of the neck on which this magnificence would rightly rest. Hard to explain, but they add a particularly human element here for me. Such an achievement, Anna! :)

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    1. Thank you for this very kind and encouraging comment and for sharing the blog. I agree that the ergonomic terminals invented in the Middle East lend a lot of beauty and comfort! to their necklaces.

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  4. Another fabulous post, Anna. Your posts on restoring antique cultural items are always quite fascinating! Another beautiful item here, indeed! :)

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    1. Hi Nikki,
      I am glad you were able to post a comment here. Hope there are no more blogger glitches. Thank you for the nice message ;)

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  5. Another interesting post, Anna. I always love reading your posts.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate all my visitors!

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  6. That is ancient and it was a very interesting blog post to read. Thanks a lot @Anna for sharing this piece.

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    1. Thanks, Violet, for reading and for commenting.

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