Ancient Egyptian Faience Necklace by PittCalebAncient Egyptians used both gemstones and an early form of ceramic called faience for their jewelry making. They placed great significance on color, not just in jewelry but linked it to the very nature of anything - inanimate object, person or god.
For instance green symbolized abundant crops and fertility. So did black, the color of the rich silt left behind after the Nile flooded. White meant purity and silver represented the moon and stars. Blue as the color of the heavens where the gods lived, was the color they used for the gods' hair in their paintings. the deepest blue was obtained from grinding up lapis lazuli. For more, read Colors of Ancient Egypt.
One of their most striking necklace designs are the collars. Many of them would look stunning with modern sheath dresses, proving good designs stand the test of time even after a few thousand years! These necklaces remain a wonderful source of inspiration.
Image by PittCaleb
Their tiered bead work is simple yet impressive. Shown above and right is a detail from a faience bead necklace ca 1363-1336 B.C. (18th Dynasty) now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Each row represent different fruit and petals - the white beads are supposed to be lotus petals.
Another broad collar going back to the 12th Dynasty is this burial necklace for an official. It was never meant to be worn as there is no clasp and the ties are too flimsy. It too is made from faience beads which are shaped rather like bugle beads. It is now at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The Ancient Egyptians used gemstones in jewelry designs but favored glass because of the greater range of colors. The choice of colors was very important for many hues signified something. Green symbolized new growth life.
Nefertiti by Jorge-11 The best way to get the look of an Egyptian necklace is by beaded netting styles. Mortira, who writes the Inspirational Beading blog, has an outstanding post on how she was inspired by the necklace featured on the bust of Queen Nefertiti to create her own beaded collar.
Another inspiration is this original crochet cotton, pearl and sterling silver collar necklace by Durova.
Making Beaded Jewelry's easy Cleopatra necklace tutorial shows how you can make a spectacular Egyptian style collar with the right sort of beads.
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