Carnelian – over 4000 Years in Fashion

Back in January of this year, I visited the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi. On a cold, snowy Winter’s afternoon, stepping into the ‘Archaeological Treasury’ of jewels was like being transported into another world, the world of ancient nobles from the ‘land of the Golden Fleece’. That this jewellery had stood the test of time was remarkable, but I was also struck by the similarity of many of the gemstone necklaces to the kind of jewellery I love to make and wear.

Carnelian beads were also widely worn and treasured by the Romans and Ancient Egyptians. The Ancient Egyptians’ name for the stone translates as ‘the setting sun’ and it is clear that they must have been captivated by its deep orangey-red colour. It was also prized for its amuletic value. By 3500 BC, the Ancient Egyptians were able to polish and drill beads for stringing and the stones they prized were carnelian, turquoise, lapis lazuli, amethyst, green feldspar and jasper. It helps that they did not have access to flashy rubies and sapphires.

Inspired by these ancient treasures, I have created a collection of new pieces featuring carnelian beads in both a rough and polished form, along with gold, jasper, and chrysocolla. I am excited to be working with such timeless materials and the gorgeous orange of carnelian looks as fabulous today as it must have done on Nefertiti herself!

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