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This is an antique gilded silver wedding necklace worn by a woman in Yemen in the early nineteen hundreds. It probably belonged to a woman whose family could afford the extra cost of apply a gold wash to all parts of this piece except the handmade chain that passes behind the neck. This necklace would have been given to her as part of her dowry.
This necklace reveals a lot about the values and priorities of the family that had it made for their daughter. First, their daughter's status and financial security was important to them. The amount of gilded silver in this one piece is quite valuable. The workmanship is exquisite. The inlaid filigree, the tiny granules of silver applied to the small beads, the end pieces and the plaques and amulets show that some master silversmith was taking great pains to make a very special piece.
The coral is prized as a gem, but it might have been added later, as the small granulated gilded silver beads had to be removed to use as money to pay for a needed item for the married woman who owned the necklace. The most traditional of wedding necklaces were made almost entirely of silver beads, plaques and amulets. Gems might be inlaid in the silver, however. Since the dowry was used as money if the married woman needed it, she could simply remove part or parts of her jewelry and use it to exchange for items that she needed or wanted.
However, in this piece, the coral was apparently inlaid in the plaques and amulets when the piece was created, which offers the possible explanation that the necklace originally included coral beads.
There is another serious intent that is revealed in this piece: a total of three prayer amulets attached to the plaques on the necklace. Wedding necklaces were not skimpy things in this period in Yemen. The larger pieces, the longer multiple strands all showed that the family and the groom were generous and were loading this bride with a good deal of wealth.
One last but very important moral teaching was passed in the symbols of this necklace from the family to the bride. The value of having children. There are 26 fertility symbols attached in various places. There are eight that hang on a bar that is attached to the central amulet. Four more hand from the plaque to which the prayer amulet is attached. Six hang on chains from the side amulets. And the final two fertility symbols attach to one of the terminal plaques. What is more, these fertility symbols are formed with wrapped wire for the long section.
I am told by the best-known collector dealer in Yemen that the coral is Mediterranean coral, but has been brought into Yemen for a very long time. We have quite a stash of loose coral beads of this age, which along with the jewelry, was collected in Yemen.
From that stash, I restored four of the tiny coral bead chips that had fallen out of the inlay. I also replaced the very old frayed and broken bead string with nylon coated steel wire. Except for the missing coral and the bead string, all this piece is just as it was collected in Yemen.
Like all other pieces on this web site, the piece is returnable for a full refund if you are not satisfied.
In invite inquiries. I also offer a lay-away plan for this high-value item. We can work out the details in private correspondence.
Measurements: Inside strand and chain make a 22 inch opening for the neck. The necklace, including the pendants and symbols. hangs from a woman's neck to 15 inches on her chest.
The central plaque, amulet, chains and symbols measure 3 inches at the widest horizontal point by 6 inches vertical.
More information at http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/craftsofthepast/4315889/