Decorative Band, 14. Decorative Gold Band

  • Egypt
  • 16th - 14th centuries B.C.
Catalogue Entry

These decorative bands link together beads made in the shape of bivalve shells. The gold shell beads are ( hollow, with two hole openings and are connected by two strands of small gold beads. The other band ( has two stones (red carnelian and a light brown stone) and six pieces of faience in the same shape as the other gold bands, also linked by two strands of circular stone beads. The faience show a variety of colors, including cobalt, blue, green, turquoise and dark brown, which are thought to imitate the precious stones essential to Egyptian jewelry, such as lapis lazuli and turquoise. Faience is bright and glossy in its diverse palette and thus jewelry made from this material to imitate precious stones, as here, would have been widely used in Egypt.

Faience is a form of glazed ceramic, but its body is not normal clay, but rather quartz mixed with a small amount of lime and alkali (either plant ash or natron). These are the same elements used to make glass, but their proportions differ in faience. This body material is put in a mold or hand formed, coated in glaze and fired. While the components that make up glass fuse when they are fired, faience is fired at a relatively low temperature and its components do not completely fuse. Faience was first made in Egypt during the Pre-Dynastic period and was used for a variety of vessel shapes, developing a high degree of technical and aesthetic excellence not seen in faience produced in other areas.