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This beautiful necklace comprises a series of beads – coral and silver inset with turquoise – that originally would have been worn in a similar array either across the hair or across a headdress worn by an upper-class woman in Lhasa. As fashions changed, it is possible that the hair beads were repurposed as a necklace, or the repurposing was done outside Tibet to keep the various beads together and in sequence.
The necklace comprises one large silver hair bead set with a large turquoise cabochon and four smaller, similar beads. Each bead features fine silver wirework, pearled wire and granulation work.
There are also ten coral beads – each is of genuine coral sourced via trade routes probably from the Mediterranean. Each bead has obvious age, wear and patina. Plus there are many small silver spacer beads.
The necklace is wearable and closes with an ‘S’-shaped clasp. It is short and could be lengthened by being attached to another chain to extend it. Each element has splendid wear and obvious age.
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Casey Singer, J., Gold Jewelry from Tibet and Nepal, Thames & Hudson, 1996.
Seiwert, W.D., Jewellery from the Orient: Treasures from the Bir Collection, Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2009.