Greece, Hellenistic, ca. 336 to 323 BCE. A gorgeous 18 karat gold necklace chain with an ancient silver Alexander III, or Alexander the Great, tetradrachm on a 14 karat gold pendant. Surrounded by 44 chanel set, baguette cut synthetic spinels of a sapphire hue and a gold filigree, the ancient coin features a youthful profile of the Greek hero Herakles facing right with a large nose, prominent chin, pursed lips, and wearing his famous Nemean lion skin, which, according to mythology, he defeated during the first of his 12 Labors. Weight: 50.5 g. Coin 90% Silver. Chain: 80% gold or 18K. Setting: 60% gold or 14K. Size: pendant 2.125" Diameter (5.4 cm); coin 1.25" Diameter (3.2 cm); chain 19" L (48.3 cm)
The reverse side shows a throned Zeus, the father of Herakles, facing left with a chiseled abdomen, reminiscent of the Belvedere Torso, with a cloth draped over the lower half of his body as his left arm reaches back to hold a sceptre and his right extends to hold an eagle. Pegasus can be seen running at his foot, possibly in the background, while the inscription "Of Alexander" is written vertically in Greek behind Zeus' throne.
These images of Herakles and Zeus were chosen due to Alexander the Great's many links to the ancient hero of Herakles. In addition to often being described as lion-like in many ancient sources, Alexander the Great was part of the Argead dynasty, an ancient Macedonian royal house, who claimed lineage to Herakles and, according to Plutarch, many rumors claimed that Alexander was also a son of Zeus, like Herakles. A stunning piece of jewelry that will undoubtedly elicit praise of both its beauty and rich historical significance. Accompanied by a North American Gemological Laboratory card.
Alexander the Great needs no introduction, and his coinage had subsequent international fame. Although they began to be minted during his lifetime, coins of this style were also issued for two decades after his death by the generals who had divided up his empire, and similar coins were minted by cities for over two centuries to be issued as international coinage. During his lifetime, the production of these coins also speaks to the vast international reach that his empire (and his fame) had: twenty-five mints produced these tetradrachms, of which two were in his home kingdom of Macedonia, one was in his conquered territory of Egypt, and the other twenty-three were in various parts of Alexander-conquered or -influenced Asia. Tetradrachms, specifically, have become especially notorious since the rule of Alexander, as it is believed to be a tetradrachm that was given to Judas for betraying Jesus in the Bible.
Circulated throughout Alexander's territory, versions of these coins can be found in many esteemed institutions. For example, the Metropolitan museum has several, two of which can be found in galleries 158 and 406 (Accession Numbers: 05.44.388 and 1974.10)
Provenance: ex Gig Harbor, Washington USA collection acquired from an old California estate, before 2005
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Necklace constructed in modern times with ancient silver coin and modern gold and synthetic spinels. Minor abrasions to coin, with softening to some finer details and edges, otherwise intact and very good. Nice patina to coin and wearable as shown.