Category Archives: Glass Beads

About Bembe Cote Beads

Bembe Cote beads are a type of African trade beads popular amongst the Bembe people of Congo.

These decorative glass beads were popularly used for trading purposes in Africa during the pre-20th century period, mainly as currency for the exchange of goods, services and slaves.

The success of Bembe Cote beads as a form of currency is largely attributed to the high intrinsic value that the people of Africa placed on decorative items.

Bembe Cote beads are today available in attractive colors such as deep maroon with each individual bead measuring approximately ½ inches in diameter.

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About ‘Fancy Glass’ Beads

In the 19th – 20th century, Fancy Glass beads – also known as lamp-wound beads, featured as a vital part of the Venetian bead production. These comprised of beautiful beads which were crafted by hand from interesting pieces of glass with spectacular floral designs.

Lamp wound beads are today available in the form of pressed glass beads which take on various colors, shapes and sizes. Some popular Fancy Glass bead shapes for modern jewelry designs include the round, oval and faceted oval beads.

Today, Fancy Glass beads can be used to make jewelry items such as bracelets, anklets, chokers and necklaces for both modern women and men with an eye for fashion.

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About Vaseline Beads

Dating back to as early as 1915, Vaseline beads were originally attractive, greenish-yellow glass beads whose pretty color is attributed to the presence of uranium salts. These beads tend to fluoresce under ultraviolet light and turn a violent green.

Later versions of Vaseline beads were made in various attractive colors including bright green, red, amethyst, as well as an opaque blue green which is the color of fine amazonite.

These beads are large, faceted and shaped into a rondelle shape or flat disk, with popular jewelry designs featuring both forms on a single strand.

Today, Vaseline beads still retain their special significance as highly prized African trade beads.

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About Padre Beads

Padre beads are glass beads whose origin is traced back to ancient China. In the late 18th century, these beads spread rapidly in use in Southwest and Northwest America, following the trading patterns of Russian and Spanish traders.

Padre beads were available in 3 sizes:

  • jumbo Dogons measuring 5/8’s to ¾ inches in diameter;
  • mid-sized Crow beads measuring 3/8’s inches in diameter, and the
  • small Pony beads measuring 3/16’s inches in diameter.

Padre beads were available in a variety of colors, with blue and white being most valuable historically and the only ones acceptable for trade amongst the Indians.

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About Olumbo Beads

Olumbo beads are old Czech beads made from glass which were popularly worn by the Nigerian people at the height of African trade in the past centuries. Olumbo beads were part of the selection of African trade beads which were used for purposes of trade by African kings and chiefs while trading in slaves, ivory and other goods with western sea faring merchants as far back as the late eighteenth century. Today, Olumbo beads can be strung on raffia – bead to bead, to create beautiful bracelets and necklaces for the discerning beaded jewelry lover. The beads are usually available in attractive colors such as pink and various other shades of red, but can be found in green.

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About King Beads

King beads are old Venetian wound and marvered bicone beads.

There is a legend behind the naming of these beads which holds that these beads were worn by African Kings and tribal chiefs during the mass importation of African trade beads in the early 1970s.

The earliest versions of King beads are dated to the mid 19th century, with their representations having been made on bead sample cards donated by Moses Lewin Levin to the British Museum in 1865.

King beads still hold a place of importance in modern African society where they are prominently featured in Dipo Initiation ceremonies held in Ghana, with the yellow King beads being used to symbolize maturity and prosperity.

King beads are today available in a wide range of attractive colors, sizes and designs – but always in the bicone shape.

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About Venetian Beads

Venetian beads are made using a bead making technique which originated in Venice during the late nineteenth century and were historically used as trading currency in Africa.

Today, antique Venetian beads are prized by bead collectors around the world due to their rarity. Venetian beads are renowned for their very high level of craftsmanship and the fact that every bead is made by hand, which makes each individual bead unique.

Venetian beads are also recognized for their distinctive floral appearance, as well as their beauty, intricate designs and vivid colors which make them ideal choices for creating the most exquisite of jewelry items.

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About Yellow Jacket Beads

Because of their rarity, yellow jacket beads are some of the most highly sought after beads by bead collectors the world over.

Yellow jacket beads are distinctly characterized by the precision and detail that goes into making these exquisite layered glass trade beads by hand.

Yellow jacket beads receive their name from their coat which features black beads with yellow stripes – which pretty much resembles the appearance of the yellow jacket bees.

Yellow jacket beads are another type of African trade beads which were used as currency for trade during the pre-19th century period, mainly in West African countries such as Ghana.

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About Millefiore Beads

Millefiore beads just happen to be some of the most beautiful African beads available.

Millefiore beads are crafted through the application of numerous layers of vibrant colored glass which are fused together in cross sections and thereafter plastered onto the bead surface. Various designs are used to decorate the surface of these beads including the popular flowers, faces, as well as abstract patterns.

Widely recognized for their aesthetically appealing flower designs, these beads are a favorite of African bead collectors the world over.

One of the reasons for the popularity of Millefiore beads amongst collectors is the fact that each bead is handmade. As such, when making their purchase, the collector can rest assured that they are adding a very unique and one-of-a-kind bead to their collection.

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About African ‘Fancy’ Beads

Beads made from all sorts of materials including brass, glass and metal may be referred to as “fancy beads”. These beads may be labeled “fancy” due to the elaborate decorations that adorn their surfaces.

For instance, fancy beads may be decorated with dots, lines, trails and engravings to fit in with their fancy description. Fancy beads may also be shaped after decorating to give them an even more interesting pattern.

Fancy beads will typically receive their fascinating patterns and decorations while still in molten state to allow for easier shaping. During the decoration process, glass rods may be used to apply numerous dots, as well as wavy lines or trails to the fancy beads.

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