A Roman Amethyst Bead Pendant, ca. 1st century BCE/CE


this pretty biconical amethyst bead ranging from a soft, light hue to a deep, rich purple.  The bead form is a little irregular, as is to be expected from the hand-polishing process used in the fabrication.  Strung on a fine silver chain.   

Background:  The name of this exquisite purple quartz crystal comes from the Greek word "amethystos" that literally translates as “remedy against drunkenness”.  In antiquity, this stone was believed to keep the wearer sober no matter how much wine he might consume. All the great ancient civilizations valued the gem; it was particularly popular in Egypt for scarabs and in Greece and Rome for intaglio rings. Because of its wine-dark color and its use to prevent intoxication, many were carved with the head of the wine-god Dionysus. The oldest known stone in the Crown Jewels of England is an amethyst first worn in the 11th century by Edward the Confessor. Even today, the rings of high-ranking ecclesiastics often have amethysts as their center stones. Many wonderful and therapeutic properties are ascribed to the gem: it can cure gout, it cleanses the body of impurities, it keeps the mind clear and alert and improves the memory, it gives the wearer pleasant dreams and keeps them immune from infection and contagious diseases.

Condition:  Expected signs of ancient wear; but intact and in very good condition overall. 

Dimensions:  Strung on an 18 inch silver chain.

Provenance:  Private Californian collection, acquired in the late 1960's and then by descent. 

Type: Roman

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