Many beaders like to use two wires when stringing their necklaces to give them an extra dimension. The technique of using two or more strands in a design is definitely not new.

The above Sumerian Ur (circa 2500 BC) necklace using gold and lapis lazuli found in a royal grave (in modern day Iraq) uses two strands too. Lapis lazuli was so prized by the Sumerians that they considered it especially worthy for royalty. The lapis lazuli beads mimic the shape of the gold ones which adds the contrast element to this design.

Lapis lazuli is mainly a mineral called lazurite. It can also contain sodalite (a blue gemstone), calcite (white bits) and pyrite (fool's gold). The best lapis are deep blue with flecks of pyrite. Sodalite, also a blue gemstone in its own right, does not have these golden flecks. It is a good gemstone alternative to the pricier lapis.

Lapis is a very attractive gemstone still in demand in modern day jewelry. It has a enduring quality as can be seen from the lapis pendant on the right. It appeals even today even though this one is a pendant made in Mesopotamia in circa 2900 BC!

Hugh Tait (1986). Jewelry : 7000 years. British Museum