Artifacts & Archeology

The Most Expensive Gold Antique in the World – $35 Million Persian Necklace

© Tamoikin Art Fund

This stunning necklace is considered to be one of the rarest privately owned gold artifacts in the World! Known as ‘The Star Crescent Necklace’ it is actually an ancient jewellery set that archeologists call ‘Parthian-Sarmatian Royal Gold Necklace and Amulet‘.

It was made somewhere between the 2 century B.C. and 2 century A.D. for a Persian king (or potentially a queen). For many years the necklace was passed down from one tribal ruler to another, sometimes peacefully, at other times by conquest, and over its lifetime could have belonged to both, kings as well as queens. The set was worn directly on the chest to display power, wealth, and divinity of the bearer. It is widely known that throughout various civilizations large gold necklaces were specifically worn by royalty to indicate their high social status.

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This necklace is believed to have been first created in Parthia, an ancient Persian empire that existed from 247 BC to 224 AD, but eventually came into possession of the Sarmatians, the legendary nomadic Indo-Iranian warriors that spread throughout central parts of the Eurasian Steppe. It is them who eventually buried it with one of their tribal kings in what is called a Kurgan, a pyramid-like tomb constructed over a single grave that is filled with precious items for the afterlife. The necklace remained buried with its king for centuries until 1930s when it was discovered by the Soviet archeologists.


The Star Crescent Necklace

Chosen by the World Gold Council as One of

30 Golden Treasures Rediscovered Over 30 Years!


In 2017, for their 30th anniversary, the World Gold Council, the leading market development organization for the entire gold industry and the global authority on gold, published an exclusive catalog with top 30 golden treasures that were rediscovered in the past 30 years.

30 Golden Treasures Rediscovered Over 30 Years © 2017 World Gold Council

‘The Star Crescent Necklace’ was chosen to be among these world-class gold artifacts and can be found on pages 48-49 of that elite publication.

Pg. 48-49 | 30 Golden Treasures Rediscovered Over 30 Years © 2017 World Gold Council
Pg. 48 | 30 Golden Treasures Rediscovered Over 30 Years © 2017 World Gold Council

Holy Symbol of Islam


As a set, this necklace and amulet represent ‘The Star and the Crescent Moon’ an ancient symbol of the Middle East and now the Holy Symbol of Islam. While predating Islam itself, this set is considered to be one of the most vivid pre-Islamic depictions of the celestial symbol in the form of ancient gold jewelry.

Asymmetrical ornaments at each end of the necklace reveal that it was likely kept in a crescent-like position when not worn by its owner. If you look closely at the decorations at the two ends of the necklace, you will see that they are not identical. While birds are mirroring each other, the six circles with the dots inside them are not. Furthermore there is a large dotted circle on one end of the necklace (presumed to be the bottom one), but not the other.

All of this indicates that the necklace was intended to be viewed in a vertical position as well, reflecting how the moon crescent is seen at night. There are many historic accounts of jewelry and other royal items that were intentionally displayed in a specific position to demonstrate power, wealth, and even a specific ritual message. ‘The Star Crescent Necklace’ is believed to be one of them.

“I, Shapur, King of Kings, partner with the Stars, brother of the Sun and Moon, to my brother Constantius Caesar offer most ample greeting” 

Shapur II (King of Sasanian Persian Empire) in letter to the Roman Emperor Constantine

Source: The Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art           

The Pleiades


It was determined that this necklace is the a likely an ancient depiction of ‘The Pleiades’ star cluster. The Persians called this group of stars ‘Parveen (Parvin)’ or ‘Sorayya’. They were considered sacred in many pre-Islamic cultures in the Middle East. Furthermore it is very likely that these gold artifacts were used for nocturnal rituals and ceremonies by both, the Parthians and the Sarmatians.

The Pleiades is a group of seven sister stars that is located in the constellation of Taurus. Each out of seven Carnelian stones on the necklace portrays one of the seven stars of the Pleiades. The shape of the Necklace also corresponds to the position of the sister stars in the sky. Important to note that the Pleiades is known to be depicted by ancient civilizations next to the full or crescent moon, as can be seen on The Nebra Sky Disk for example.


The Bird of Fortune


The two birds that decorate this necklace are believed to be a single representation of the mythological bird ‘Huma’ (or Bulah in Arabic). In the Middle East Huma is a bird that brings good fortune and prosperity. It also foretells successful Kingship, thus, to attract luck, many Middle-Eastern rulers placed the image of this bird on their belongings and its feathers on their turbans.  

In Sufi tradition, it is believed that catching the Huma is to reach a state of perfect happiness, and even a single glimpse of this mystical bird will make you happy for the rest of your life. Something that’s not easy to do by the way, considering that Huma never rests or comes down, always flying high in the sky!


The Other Necklace


The only other gold necklace that is similar to ‘The Star Crescent Necklace’ is located in Iran at the Reza Abbasi Museum. It was also made in Parthia, roughly at the same time, 2 century A.D., and is considered to be one of the the most prized archeological treasures of Iran.

Both necklaces are circular, flat, thin and of similar overall shape. Both are decorated with a five-stone rectangular centerpieces. Similar dotted triangular ornaments are found on both artifacts. And of course they are both made of gold.

It is evident that the necklace and all images on it contain a message or a story. The necklace’s association with the moon and the stars indicate divinity and connection to the spiritual world. The bird Huma conveys fortune, kingship and flight over the mountains of Persia which are portrayed by the dotted triangles. The most likely translation of the entire composition (necklace and amulet) is that the bearer of this necklace was a person of heavenly origin (a king) that was of the moon and the stars, who flew (ruled) over all land and mountains of Persia.

‘The Star Crescent Necklace’ is approximately 8 inches (20 cm) wide and is beautifully decorated with seven cornelian stones. It is in a reasonably good condition for its age, and almost completely intact. Its structure consists of a single solid gold sheet cover that sits on an internal silver-alloy frame. The gold amulet consists of five cornelian stones set on a decorated gold sheet cover which too rests on a silver-alloy base. There is a slight damage seen on the entire amulet, especially on its left side. Ornaments on both, the necklace and the amulet, were done by a technique called ‘Repoussé’, a method in which metal is shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief.

There is a possibility that this necklace is much older than its current dating and may hide more ancient secrets that haven’t yet been discovered. Without a doubt it’s a world-class cultural and historical artifact that belongs in a museum. Currently ‘The Star Crescent Necklace’ is located in the Tamoikin Art Fund, which has been publicly displaying and exhibiting this international treasure for over a decade. It is valued at $35 million and is considered to be the most valuable antique gold necklace in the World.

The Star Crescent Necklace
© Tamoikin Art Fund

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