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This string of banded agate beads is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. The beads were sold to me as “ancient” agates from Afghanistan, but they seem too glossy and perfect to be that old. Still, I have no doubt that they are antiques. I have never seen such delectable agates in the markets for contemporary beads. I suspect that they were cut in Idar-Oberstein (Germany) in the last century or two from very fine material. Some of the beads have a pleasing amber translucence.


These stones are a pleasure to touch.

I made up this necklace with care, using lapis lazuli, gold, and a 14K gold clasp. My model was the jewelry of Queen Puabi from the royal tombs at Ur in Mesopotamia. Puabi was buried with many strands of delicate cylindrical beads spaced with lapis and gold, though most of her beads were carnelian rather than banded brown agate. (She was also buried with 52 serving women, who were apparently killed so they could accompany her into the next world.)


Puabi’s elaborate headdress and beaded cape (ca. 2600 BCE).


Closeup of the bead strands from Puabi’s cloak.


My “Royal Ur” necklace is a treasure!