Posted 3 years ago
I bought this necklace yesterday from an antique dealer. I wasn't sure about it at the time but decided to go for it as I love the colour. It looks like cherry amber or 'Faturan' with 6 big barrel shaped beads that each measure 1 & 1/8th inches long by just under 1 inch wide. The total weight of the necklace is 88 grams but that includes the string/thread, and the length is 16 inches.
I have seen lots of vintage and antique cherry amber necklaces on-line (and I have a few in my collection) but never one quite like this with this sort of wound stringing, it gives it an ethnic look and suggests (to me) that it may be North African. To take it off the string & do tests on the beads might be a big mistake so I have done some non destructive tests... The last photo shows one of the beads with a UV light shining on it - it makes it look opaque and with a yellowish hue.
The beads have been machined, or turned on a lathe, this is evident at the drill holes, so they are not moulded plastic, and when rubbed quickly to create static they do pick up tissue paper etc. (A test for amber).
I have also tested one of the beads with "Simichrome" polish (no result so not bakelite) and then with a drop of acetone, again no result and no trace of sticky residue so that would also point to amber.
Ideally I would be able to test (for amber) to see if it floats on salt water but I can't do that while it is strung. I am also reluctant to do a hot needle test as I don't want to damage the beautiful beads (it would be possible with loose or loosely strung beads to test inside the drill hole but these are tightly strung so that isn't possible.
I would love to know if anyone has seen similar stringing on beads like these and could help me identify the origin and possible age. A friend suggested Berber and that is why I think possibly North African.