For centuries, the city of Benin was the heart of a powerful African empire. Skilled bronze smiths, working in the service of the aristocracy, produced a rich heritage of sculptures and ornaments. In Africa, beads often helped define one's social status. They were symbols of rank, wealth, and were traded as currency. These elegant beads, heavy and delightful to the touch, were most likely worn by a member of the Benin nobility. Their beauty transcends all boundaries of time or culture. Any person who wears this necklace is certain to be richly rewarded.