Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pieces Separated from Yemen Bridal Jewelry

Pieces from Yemen bridal dowry jewelry still serve as simple but still beautiful pendants, charms and beads that can be combined with contemporary jewelry elements to good effect.  I offer some examples here:

Antique Yemen Silver Amulet, Beads, Terminals, Lapis Lazuli Necklace

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This necklace is assembled from pieces of old Yemen silver jewelry made by the Yemenite Jewish silversmiths as dowry jewels and bridal finery to be worn at the wedding and at significant events later in the bride’s life.  The focus of this necklace is the Yemen coin silver amulet made from melting down Maria Theresa thalers, an international currency at that period in history.  This kind of amulet is also known as a hirz, qtub, or mezuzah.  

This hirz can be described in English as a Yemen antique silver amulet made to contain a prayer or blessing to be worn as part of the bridal dowry on a woman's wedding day. You can see where the Yemen Jewish silversmith signed the piece on a cartouche of molten silver in its traditional place between the loops on top of the amulet.   The silversmith signed it in the archaic Arabic script that was used in Yemen even up into the early part of the twentieth century, when this piece was made, some time around 1930. 

This kind of work is no longer being done in Yemen, because the Jewish silversmiths moved along with the others in the Jewish community to their new home in Israel in the late 1940s.  

The small flat divider bead that hangs above the amulet is made in the Bawsani style of inlaid filigree.  The columnar Bedihi beads are very rare and we are very fortunate to have found them through our agent in Yemen some years ago, before the current troubles in Yemen began.  The terminal pieces are almost unavailable nowadays.  Fortunately, our family came into possession of a bag full of them several years ago, and I found this beautiful pair to decorate the ends of the strands on this lapis beaded kirdan style necklace.  

The lapis lazuli beads are high grade nuggets of lapis from Afghanistan.  The small white separator beads are made of natural bone.  The chain that goes around the back of the neck of the wearer is an old handmade Yemen chain.  The lobster clasp is modern silver plated metal.  

This necklace will mark the wearer as a person who not only recognizes beauty but also values the history of her jewelry.  

Necklace length - 23 inches (58.5 cm)
Pendant dimensions - 1.9 cm x 6.2 cm (0.75 in x 2.5 in)
Pendant dimensions including flat bead and dangles - 64 mm x 62 mm (2.5  x 2.5 in)
Silver terminal length - 4.6 cm (1.8 in)

Close up view.


Antique Yemen Silver Filigree Amulet with Hollow Silver Bead Dangles

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This is a fine antique Yemen Silver Amulet made in the traditional method with fine open filigree work with clusters of the granules of silver on the ends.  This is a decorative amulet that is not made for containing prayers or blessings such as the ones that have filigree inlay over the closed cylinder that contains prayers or blessings.  The amulets whether they contain prayers  or are deorative are also called hirz, q'tub (kitab), or mezuzzah.  Since this is a relatively small amulet, it probably hung on a cord with other amulets, one being the large one that opened to insert the actual prayers. 

Dated to the early 1900s, such amulets were created especially for the Yemen brides to wear as their dowry, their store of silver to provide them with security, as their dowry was their own property.  Silver in the form of beautiful jewelry also gave the woman status among her peers.  And of course, the load of silver jewelry adorning her from the top of her head to the tip of her toes made her even more beautiful on her wedding day.  

This is made of silver from the Maria Theresa thalers that came into Yemen from Europe through foreign trade for Yemen's raw materials or coffee. This would have been created as bride wealth for a woman to wear on her wedding day and then at the birth of each of her children. 

I provided this valuable collectible with a silver plated chain with a lobster claw clasp so that you can wear it as jewelry.  

No charge for shipping to U.S. addresses.

Length of chain - 18 inches  
Amulet - 44 mm (1.75 inches) x 40 mm (1.6 inches) including loops and dangles.


                      Old Yemen Silver Wheel Bead with Coral, Amber, Bone Beaded Necklace
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Close-up of Yemen granulated silver wheel bead.

In making this necklace I raided my stash of old butterscotch and egg yolk amber resin beads.  This necklace demanded more beads and more of a variety due to the importance of the focal bead.  It is an old Yemen silver alloy bead made in the standard granulation style.  Tiny beads of silver are dropped onto a wire or solid background metal in rows or in patterns.  The small beads made in this way are called berry beads, while these larger diameter granulated beads like this one are called wheel beads.  They resemble a lugged tire.  

This one is large enough that it needed large decorative beads to surround it.  The Yemen silversmiths, along with the desert nomads, preferred two kinds of beads to string with their silver creations: coral and amber.  When the old natural frankincense amber became too expensive for them to string with their beautiful silver, they turned to the modern imitations of amber coming from Europe and North Africa.  For a long while the Mediterranean natural coral remained available to them.  

Unfortunately, the Mediterranean coral beads are very scarce and expensive at present.  For this piece, I decided to use the dyed natural coral from the Pacific which is naturally much paler and grows thicker branches than the old Mediterranean type.  I chose for the foil against which the silver, amber resin and coral would play a handful of my tray of dyed bone beads, shaped by hand and quite at home in a nomadic style of necklace such as this one.  

The necklace contains three antique Yemen silver beads, four of the Pacific coral beads and 27 bone beads.  The remainder of the beads, including the fastener are made of vintage amber resin beads.  

Necklace length - 26 inches (66 cm)
Wheel bead dimensions - 25 mm diam. x 16 mm wide (1 in x 0.63 in )

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Yemeni Nomad Jewelry Finds

Old Yemen Silver Coin and Beads on Goat Hide Leather Headband

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Silver headbands were a common accessory worn by Yemeni women in the early 1900s. The methods of making the complex forms and links that made a silver piece flexible and soft enough to be worn across the forehead for a long time are no longer practiced widely in Yemen. The Jewish silversmiths who made those intricately woven silver accessories emigrated to Israel in the early 1900s.

Since that time, individual pieces of silver such as the coins and granulated bell-shaped beads, adorned with matching rose coral beads could be assembled from the remains of the older pieces and re-used as in this headband. 

It is one of a kind, original, authentic Yemeni folk art and is beautiful in its balance, comfortable because of the soft goat leather and is complete, just as the maker put it together. 

It appears to have simply been tied around the head, since the ends are very tapered, but no holes have been punched as if a needle had sewn it together. 

The large coin is the Maria Theresa thaler, a major source for silver jewelry making in the 19th and early 20th century in Yemen. The face of the monarch, Maria Theresa, is turned to the back, and hidden by the leather backing. It was once furnished with a bail for hanging; the bail is decorated with a charming granulated rosette. 

The other coins are Yemeni, and I cannot see the date on them, but they no doubt precede considerably the fabrication of this piece, as would the 1798 date on most Maria Theresa thalers! 

The coral is closely matched in size and color and is obviously old Mediterranean real, natural rose coral. 

Inquiries invited. As you can see, I like to discuss the items in my collection.

26 inches long.  $320.00 U.S. 

I offer a Reserve and Pay in Partial Payments over 3 months for all purchases of $300.00 or more.  If you are interested, please contact me and we can make an arrangement that suits your needs.  
Unless the customer requests and pays for an expedited method, domestic and international shipping is via United States Postal Service. The item will be wrapped carefully and packed in protective material in a postal service approved package. Delivery confirmation and insurance will be paid by me, the Seller. 
 On purchases amounting to $300 or more, the shipping will be free. Otherwise, the shipping charge will be shown before checking out. 

I accept returned items if they are in the same condition as when shipped and if returned within a reasonable amount of time after receiving them. An item can be returned for any reason. I guarantee your satisfaction. 

For international buyers, it is important to note: If you need to know what import or VAT taxes your country may charge, please consult your Postal Service or government Tax Office.

CONTACT ME through the private message form above left. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Yemen Silver Beads from Kirdan Bridal Necklace

Antique Yemen Silver Amulet, Large Silver Melon Beads Chain Necklace


From my own collection of precious cultural relics of the Yemenites, I offer this antique Yemen silver amulet or prayer cylinder, large melon-shaped banded and striated silver beads in a traditional pattern of the early 1900s. Smaller silver beads separate the large beads from the amulet and from each other. All the beads and the amulet were made around 1900 and my family collected them around 2000 in Yemen. The Jewish silversmiths who did this kind of work had emigrated to Israel by 1948 and no one has made this kind of silver jewelry in Yemen since. 

The jewel chest in the photo is also from Yemen, and is filled with amber beads from Yemen, but it is not for sale. It is appropriate to display this chain of large beads and the unusually decorated amulet near a wood chest, because they were part of a bride's dowry. Among the people of the Middle East, the dowry is the equivalent of a hope chest and wedding shower. 

The family, the groom, and friends contribute the gifts of silver. Usually, those gifts, whether in coinage or in silver pieces from previous generations, are melted down and new beads, amulets, chains, veil and hair ornaments, rings, bracelets and anklets are made for the bride to wear on her wedding day and then to use as a treasury if she needs to spend it for necessities later in her marriage. 

At the birth of each child, she will wear the jewelry again to receive the visitors who come to congratulate her. 

Only the necklace is for sale, not the props in the photos.

The chain and fastener are modern antiqued silver plate.

Amulet is 26 mm diam x 7.6 cm long 

Price: $650 U. S.   Contact me for invoice or with questions through the private message form at the top left of this page. 

Yemeni Silversmith


Bridal Dowry



Year (estimate)

Very Good

Item Condition


Country of Origin


Primary Material

More Info

International Buyers are welcome to my California based shop. Please browse, ask questions, discuss items, shipping, or guarantees. Please use the Contact Seller link, not the comment box. I am happy to respond quickly to any of your inquiries. I will consider shipping to other countries than are listed here, depending on the import regulations of the country.

Unless the customer requests and pays for an expedited method, domestic and international shipping is via United States Postal Service. The item will be wrapped carefully and packed in protective material in a postal service approved package. Delivery confirmation and insurance will be paid by me, the Seller.

On high value items, the shipping will be free. Otherwise, the shipping charge will be as noted at the Shipping tab of the item listed for sale.

I accept returned items if they are in the same condition as when shipped and if returned within a reasonable amount of time after receiving them. An item can be returned for any reason. I guarantee your satisfaction.

For international buyers, it is important to note: If you need to know what import or VAT taxes your country may charge, please consult your Postal Service or government Tax Office.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Turkoman Ersari Tribal Silver Jewelry

Some of the most elegant jewelry produced in the late 1800s to early 1900s came from the hands of the Ersari tribe silversmiths.  The traditional Turkoman symbols are more important to the Ersari craftsmen than the encrustation of the silver with multi-colored jewels such as pieces made in the Bukhara tribal tradition.  For example:

Antique Turkoman Tribal Silver Pendant Asik Ersari Design
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Antique silver Turkoman pendant called asik by the Turkoman. This plain ungilded silver with a certain cut of the gemstone is characteristic of the Ersari tribe of pre-1900, according to Dieter and Reinhold Schletzer, Old Silver Jewelry of the Turkoman. 

There are circular tracings for decorations along the raised section markers of the asik. The carnelian in the center is cut irregularly, slightly domed but baroque on its surface. The ruby red gemstones or glass? are incised with symbols of a crescent moon and stars. 

I assume these represent Moslem symbols, as the Turkoman people were not moon worshippers according to the history recorded by Messrs. Schletzer. The Turkmen honored ancestors, the mountains which were their original homeland, and the family. 

The asik seems heart-shaped to us, but to the Turkmen it suggests part of the female anatomy. It is a symbol for wife and mother to wear. 

This piece was collected in Afghanistan. The Ersari live in the northern regions of Afghanistan and wear such asik as this one. 

Note that the wire is only for holding the pendant for display. It is not a part of the piece. 

The piece is large, measuring 8.3 inches long and 5.5 inches wide 

This Ersari veil ornament shows the same understated elegance as the asik above: 

Antique Turkoman Silver Ersari Tribal Hair Ornament

This is an ornament that the Turkoman woman or Turkmen women wear attached to their braided hair. The ornament hangs from the back of the crown of the head when the dangles are on such long chains as this one. The shorter ornaments for the hair are sometimes attached to the hair just above each ear and are worn as pairs. This type is sometimes pinned to a head covering rather than to the hair. 

This tenecir, which is the Turkic language term for this ornament, is made in the typical Ersari tribal style of good silver and is in excellent condition for its age of over a hundred years. For the age of this style of work I refer you to Reinhold and Dieter Schletzer's work entitled Old Silver Jewellery of the Turkoman. 

The carnelian is the favorite gemstone of the Turkoman people. This particular gemstone is table cut or flat cut and was not perfect when it was set. This flaw did not bother the tribal mentality of that period of Central Asian history. In fact, if a silversmith made a flawless piece of jewelry, he might punch a small hole in it or purposely do slight damage to the piece so as not to tempt supernatural powers that might take revenge on him for his pride of work. 

However, I do not hesitate to recommend this beauty as a perfect addition to your Turkoman tribal silver collection. 

Measurements: 16 in (40.5 cm) long x 2.75 in (7 cm) wide

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A sampling:

For more information on these jewelry pieces from my collection, send your inquiry through the private email form above left.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Blend of Silver Amulets and Beads from the Middle East

Yemen Amulets, ornate Iranian silver beads and composite turquoise beads celebrate the trade routes across Iran into Yemen.  I must add that I collected the beads and amulets while I lived in the Middle East and now offer this blend of cultures.

CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.

This necklace is modeled on Afghan bazaar style combinations of gemstones and silver from all over Western and Central Asia.  All the pieces are old, including the turquoise disk beads.  The beautifully handmade faceted Afghan silver beads and Yemeni coin silver amulets are from the early 1900s.  The amulets were collected in Yemen by a member of my family in the 1970s.  The jet beads are European and have been in my loose bead trays for a long time.  

The green blue natural composite turquoise and the black and silver bead colors strike the eye when worn on a colorful garment.  I highly recommend this necklace to women who wear red.

The ornate wheat grain shaped silver beads are from Iran, collected by a member of my family in 1973.  

The blue beads strung on the top of the larger amulet are of the Nueva Cadiz type, but I cannot be sure of their age.  They are old, but I cannot say how old.  They were bought on a string with an Egyptian faience statuette but I doubt that they are old enough to belong with an ancient Egyptian artifact.  They are probably pre-1950, but cannot be dated much earlier.  We can safely say that they are an old reproduction of the more ancient beads.  

The 25-year-old fastener is of pewter.  These pieces are from my own collection, including the fastener.  

Measurements: 65 cm (26 in) long; central amulet is 6.6 cm (2.6 in) long x 18 mm ().72 in) dam; turquoise beads are 9 mm (0.35 in) dam. Weight: 102 grams (3.6 ozs.)

CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Antique Silver Rings made by Yemen Silversmiths

Rings and Things with silver buds on them, a sampling.

A variety of ring styles from my antique Yemen bridal dowry jewelry collection.  CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.

Antique Yemen Silver and Coral Ring from Early Nineteen Hundreds 

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The Yemen silversmith made this ring with the typical motifs around the silver band and used a beautiful old Mediterranean red coral bead as the setting in a handcrafted bezel.  

It is made with the primitive hand made iron tools of the Jewish community of silversmiths of the time. Such jewelry is now rare because the Jews left Yemen in the 1940s, moving to other parts of the Middle East, mostly to Israel.  

Size: 8 per U.S. standard (18 mm inside diameter of band)
Diameter of Bezel and Coral Setting - 12.5 mm

SOLD: Old Yemen Silver Ring Omani Style with Silver Granules and Beaded

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I acquired this ring from a collector in Oman, though the ring is said to be from Yemen, probably from the Southeastern Province touching Oman.

It is decorated like other Omani jewelry. The band exterior is embellished with silver granules and beaded wire. The silver band is smooth on the inside. The beaded wire at the edges finish the decoration nicely. The ring is in very good condition and easy to wear.

It is probably made from Maria Theresa thaler coins melted down and blended with melted silver jewelry, a common practice in Yemen jewelry making. It might have been made as late as the 1940s in Yemen or if it is from Oman, it might have been made only a few decades ago.

Measurements - 25 mm = 1 inch

Outside diameter - 22 mm
Inside diameter - 18 mm (about size 8 in U.S. ring size)
Width of band - 18 mm

Yemen Silver Bedouin Ornamental Ring with Red Glass Flat Cut Gem  SOLD.

This is a beautiful Yemen silver ring worn by more than one generation of women I am assuming from its soft glowing patina. It was probably made by a rural jewelry maker, not by one of the master silversmiths in Sana'a. Of course it is possible that the ring was made by a young novice, just learning the skill of making Yemen silver jewelry.  

The silver ring is set with a round piece of smooth flat cut red glass. two small ornamental hollow silver beads decorate the bezel of the setting. The piece is probably at least fifty years old. The ring band has been either broken and repaired at center back or it was connected with a blob of solder when it was made. The inside of the band of the ring is smooth and comfortable on the finger.  

There is no charge for shipping.  

Measurements - 
Inside diameter of band - 18.5 mm (0.73 inch) Size 8 - 8.5 American size
Bezel diameter - 20 mm (0.8 in)

This ring was made by a Jewish silversmith in the cultural enclaves in Yemen where most of the silver jewelry was created. It is made of silver from the Marie Therese thalers, the international medium of exchange until the late 1800s. It is a noble addition to your collection. 

This beautiful design was made by the silversmith's talented hands and the five rudimentary tools that were also handmade of iron.  

Inside diameter - 2 cm (0.75 in)
Height at ring face - 10 mm (0.4 in)

CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Antique Kazakh Afghanistan Turkoman Tribal Silver Bead Pendant

A Rare Kazakh Turkoman Bead shown in different lighting:

In a cool light with sunlight blocked, the silvery surface is almost too gray and does not reveal the natural aged patina on the silver.  In the photo below, the sun is obviously streaming in and hitting the background of the photo.  Oddly enough, the surface of the bead appears as its natural self with a fairly dark patina in the recessed places while the raised granules of silver shine softly from being rubbed against clothing of the wearer of this old bead, collected in Afghanistan years ago.  

A side view to show the typical two sided hollow bead style of the Turkoman or Turkmen tribal silversmiths.

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A fuller description of the bead:
Rare find in Afghanistan in my collection for years. This is the prized Kazakh two sided bead that can be used as a pendant. 

Authentic Turkoman tribal silver bead collected by a family member in Afghanistan in 1974. This was old at that time. Note that a slot has formed on the rim of the bead hole on each side caused by the rubbing of the string from which it hung. 
The bezel is set with a green and a blue glass bead. The two faces of the bead are otherwise identical. The granulated silver pyramidal shapes are typical of this tribal style. The base sheet of silver is oxidized and the layer of granulation is applied over it. 

This is a fantastic collector piece of Turkoman silversmithing. You can keep it as a collectible, put it on a cord or chain and wear it alone or you can string it with other beads and make yourself or someone else a fine necklace. 

Measurements - 3 cm x 3.5 cm x 13 mm (1.2 in x 1.4 in x 0.5 in)

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