Coral, Shell and Silver Multi-strand Yemen Necklace


Wow - this is an fabulous six-strand assemblage necklace of coral, silver, shell and other beads from Yemen in the Middle East.  This necklace is really spectacular, with gorgeous small coral beads, as well as a really interesting mix of high-quality and lower quality silver beads, which (as described below) are in a variety of conditions, from very nice to damaged.  But the really wonderful thing about this necklace (like it's sister, available here) is it's overall "wow" factor.  Put it on and you're ready to make a statement!

Because there's so much to describe in this necklace, we've taken a number of pictures.  The first thing to recognize is that this is a long necklace -- almost 38 inches long!  Total weights is 320.8 grams.  The coral beads are all a little different i size, but measure 4-5 mm in diameter on average.  

The necklace is beautiful, but there is definitely some damage to the individual components -- we don't think these "flaws" detract from the overall aesthetic of the  necklace, but we still want to point them out:

  • The center bead is a gorgeous vintage Jewish/Yemeni silver work bead.  It measures 30 mm in diameter, 11 mm in thickness.  Note that there appears to be a small stone or cabochon space on each side of the bead that is empty.
  • The two silver tube beads right next to the center bead are quite lovely, probably vintage and with a high silver content
  • The grouping of tube beads towards the bottom of the necklace are some sort of "pot metal" (i.e., little silver content, whatever was "in the pot" that day).  They are the same shape as the two nicer tubers, but of more recent vintage and lower craftsmanship.
  • One of the coolest pieces of this necklace are the three large flat roundel beads on each side of the necklace.
    • There is one shell bead and two metal beads on each side of the necklace.  
    • One of the metal beads on each side is a pot metal imitation of an older bead with a bright blue or red rhinestone embedded.  Very cool - but definitely not silver.  
    • The other metal beads are highly damaged duplicates of the center bead.  One is missing its back and somewhat bent, while the other is partially caved in.    
  • Further up the necklace are some very cool shell beads that we usually associate with Nepal or India.  Perhaps they are native to Yemen as well, or perhaps they were traded.  Very pretty and in good shape.
  • The top of the necklace features some lovely silver beads, made of very thin stamped sheet metal.  The quality is mixed, as some of the beads have gotten a little beat up over the years.   
  • A few of the smaller silver spacer beads, while nice quality silver, are broken or damaged.

We don't know a lot about the provenance of this necklace, but it seems to us to be a traditional wedding assemblage of beads, perhaps from the Beduin peoples that live in the mountains of Yemen.  The necklace could certainly be worn as-is.  However, it is strung on cotton cord, and certainly a modern stringing job would be warranted (which we could do for any additional $150).  

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