A Bit About Beads

Beads are fascinating. They can help to create wonderful wearable collectable art. Handmade beaded jewellery come in a large variety of fashionable designs featuring beads from many different parts of the world. Some examples of glass beads are Czech Republic faceted beads, American furnace beads and Venetian millefiore beads. And of course, Austrian crystal glass beads and pearls made by the famous Swarovski company. Handmade ceramic beads come from places like Peru, India and Greece. They come in different shapes and have delicate painted designs.  Handmade beaded jewellery have been worn for their beauty and used for trading throughout our history.  Some examples of gemstone beads that are used in handmade beaded jewellery making are agate, amethyst, aquamarine, coral, turquoise, iolite, jade, jasper, jet, labordite, marble, moonstone, peridot, ruby, sapphire, topaz, quartz, amber, lapis lazuli, malachite, tourmaline, tanzanite, and many more. Organic handmade beaded jewellery made from pearls, wood, shell, bone, nuts and seeds are the oldest beads around. Handmade beaded jewellery is one of the oldest forms of wearable art.


Since the beginning of mankind, our basic human instincts have prompted us to decorate the human body. Primitive man adorned himself with bones, teeth and feathers. The earliest known handmade beaded jewellery made from teeth and bones was discovered at La Quina in France. In the Middle Ages brooches were worn depicting pilgrimages with the faces of saints or a holy shrine. In the 11th century Venice was the centre for the making of glass and jewellery and the elegant Venetian designs influenced other parts of Europe. European jewellery made from precious and semi-precious materials was worn by Royal families and their courtiers. The 17th century saw a transition from excessive jewellery wearing to a more subtle sophisticated taste. The 18th century brought in an era of glittering costume jewellery which is still present today.

In the 20th century the fashion designer was born. These designers often used non-precious materials to create works of art that were inspired not by fashion trends but by personal artistic ability.  In this category of artistic jewellers is the famous Coco Chanel who in the 1920s and 1930s encouraged women to wear costume jewellery with confidence and pride. By the 1950s Christian Dior dominated the fashion jewellery scene with his radical use of coloured glass. By the 1960s Paco Rabanne brought in a new look with big brightly coloured geometirc shapes. During the 1970s fashion and handmade beaded jewellery became nostalgic with an interest in things ethnic and remains so to today.

Below you will find a bit about some of the beads that are known to us which we hope you will enjoy reading.


 Bone beads are handmade and can be dyed any colour and carved into interesting shapes and designs. They usually come from Indonesia and the Phillipines.
CeramicBeads.jpg Ceramic beads are handmade from clay and come in many different shapes and colours. If left natural they have a matte brown finish. Some sources of ceramic beads are Peru, Kenya and Greece.
CzechGlassBeads.jpg Czech pressed-glass beads are colourful beads that come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from rounds, squares and ovals to leaves, flowers and animals. In the mid-nineteenth century the former Czechoslovakia was the largest manufacturer of glass beads.

Kashmiri beads.jpg

Kashmiri clay beads are handmade Indian beads decorated with different metals, glass, sequins and small brass components. Because Kashmiri beads are handmade each bead is a work of art. Kashmiri beads are used in the making of beaded necklaces and bracelettes.
Magatamas.jpg Magatamas are little glass teardrop-shaped beads.
Millefiori beads are handmade from glass canes fused together and cut into cross sections. Venetian millefiore beads were made during the nineteenth century but some date back earlier. These collectible beads come in lovely shapes and colours with interesting patterns of flowers and other scenes.
PolymerClayBeads.jpg Polymer clay beads are colourful handmade beads made from plasticine which is a synthetic material.
Shell beads are often used in handcrafted one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry to give necklaces, bracelets and earrings an ethnic look.
Venetian beads.jpg Venetian glass foil beads often have a central layer of glass wrapped in silver, gold or platinum. They are handmade in Venice. A mixture of metal is added to the glass to give it its sparkle.