ID request for an amber necklace

Discussion in 'Jewelry' started by Nick H, Feb 29, 2024.

  1. Nick H

    Nick H New Member

    Hi all,
    I'm trying to ID the origin/age of this amber necklace. It was bought by my uncle (passed away so I can't ask him about it) many years ago. He lived in Switzerland so i'm guessing he bought it from there. Any ideas? I'm keeping it as an heirloom to give to my daughter, just wondering what its backstory is. I got it tested at a local jeweller who confirmed it's all real amber. There are no marks on the metal parts. 395433995_2033926213641718_407772987115096887_n.jpg
    Any Jewelry and johnnycb09 like this.
  2. evelyb30

    evelyb30 Well-Known Member

    It certainly wants to be amber. The design looks like Islamic prayer beads. That said, a lot of synthetic amber is made and used and we really need a better look a the beads.
  3. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    they look like glass in your photo..
  4. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    They do.

  5. Finnclouds

    Finnclouds Well-Known Member

  6. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Yes, it is a tasbih, Islamic prayer beads, and very likely Baltic amber. This one looks like a tasbih made to reciting the 99 names of Allah:
    The two smaller groups of beads are called the Imam beads, they break the 99 beads down into three sets of 33 for three different types of prayer. So this one can be used two ways, either for the three sets of prayer, or to recite the 99 names of Allah.

    That graduation in colour of the beads has been fashionable in Baltic amber jewellery for the last decade or so.
    Baltic amber manufacturers make all-amber tasbihs for the Islamic market, but this looks to have been made outside the Baltic, with those metal filigree beads. Whoever made it probably used a regular Baltic amber necklace to compose the tasbih.
    Do you know what the metal is?
    Many tasbihs have 33 beads. The ones with 99 or 99+1 beads, like this one probably is, are suitable to be used for reciting the 99 names of Allah as well as the three prayer rounds. The 33 bead tasbihs can be used 3 times for the same result.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2024
    Figtree3, bluumz, mirana and 4 others like this.
  7. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Malas are Hindu and Buddhist prayer beads, just like rosaries are Catholic prayer beads. So they are not the same as tasbihs.

    One way to tell the difference is that malas have a different central or main bead(s) from tasbihs.
    Tasbihs have a long main bead that looks like an elegant, slender vase. Malas have a shorter 'Buddha' bead, that resembles a stylised seated Buddha. Both tasbihs and malas can have a large round bead with three holes as a transition from the loop to the main bead.
    Tasbihs often have a decorated metal or bead tassle on the end of the main bead. Malas often have a thread tassle or simply knotted thread ends.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2024
    Figtree3, mirana, bercrystal and 3 others like this.
  8. Finnclouds

    Finnclouds Well-Known Member

    Yes, I just eyeballed the one in question and guessed the bead count was closer to a hundred. Didn’t count them. :)

    I have the shorter version in malachite from when I lived in Bahrain many moons ago. The shape of the end bead of Nick’s looked familiar, but not the beads and tassels after that, which looked Indian to me.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2024
    bercrystal, kyratango and Any Jewelry like this.
  9. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Neither did I.:shame:;) But they do look like three rounds of 33, so 99 would be my guess too.
    The ends on tasbihs are often a matter of regional custom or personal taste. If you google 'Ottoman silver tasbih', for instance, you'll see gorgeous examples with some very imaginative tassels.
    Those end beads and tassels are also called "Imam" btw, just like the beads in between the rounds of 33.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2024
    bercrystal, Finnclouds and Dessert58 like this.
  10. Nick H

    Nick H New Member

    Thanks everyone for your replies! Yes, the necklance in Finncloud's link looks very similar to mine, apart from the silver ornamentation at the end. I'm guessing it is real amber as almost all of the beads have some black inclusions in them. I counted the beads, there are indeed three groups of 33 beads (apart from the main stone), with thinner amber discs and small metal beads dividing them. So does that confirm that this is a tasbih, rather than a mala? I'm not sure what metal the ball and tails are made from. The smaller stones in the loose hoop below main stone are more magenta than red, perhaps a type of stone rather than amber. Here are some close-up photos. Amber necklance (5 of 8).jpg Amber necklance (3 of 8).jpg Amber necklance (4 of 8).jpg Amber necklance (2 of 8).jpg

    Attached Files:

    bercrystal likes this.
  11. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Yes, it does. It is the classic configuration and number of beads of a tasbih. The long vase-shaped bead is also typical of a tasbih.

    A mala has 108 beads in the round, and a different main bead.
    bercrystal and Nick H like this.
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