Friday, November 4, 2011

Bead Spotlight: Trade Beads

The term trade beads can refer to a wide variety of unique, interesting and totally delightful baubles. Some are handmade, some are manufactured. Some are new and some are very, very old. There are glass trade beads, and natural ones. The defining characteristic of them all is their rich cultural origins, and their ability to create the look of fantastic tribal jewelry.

Assorted African Trade Beads

1. African Trade Beads, 2. Recycled Glass Trade Beads, 3. Yellow Glass Krobo Beads, 4. Cirrus Green Kazuri Bead

5. Watermelon Chevron Beads, 6. African Style Lampwork Glass, 7. Round Kiffa Beads, 8. Sand Cast Trade Beads

While trade beads are technically those that have been used as currency - traded and bartered for everything from food to people - new handmade beads from Africa are also traveling under the umbrella of trade beads, and are just as alluring as their vintage and antique counterparts. Many are made from recycled glass or vinyl, and allow artisans in underdeveloped communities to earn a living to support their families.

African Trade Bead and Tribal Jewelry

1. Trade Bead and Turquoise Necklace, 2. Red and Blue Ceramic Pendant, 3. I Think I'm in Love Bracelet, 4. African Peace Sign Pendant

5. Orange Coral Necklace, 6. African Kazuri Lariat, 7. Trade Bead Earrings, 8. Tribal Blue Krobo Earrings

The look of trade beads is often imitated in new, mass produced beads, in a variety of materials from lucite and acrylic to glass and bone. Some are created with traditional colors and patterns, while others have their own tribal vibe or earthy colors.

Do you have a favorite bead style for tribal jewelry designs?

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  1. I love the diversity of trade beads. Thanks for including my African trade bead earrings.

  2. What a great selection of jewelry! Thank you for including my blue and red necklace.

    I always enjoy reading your blog. Its so informative and this time was no exception. Thanks Mortira! :)

  3. Wonderful blog post, Morti. Have a weakness for trade beads. MY problem is that I have a tendency to hoard them instead of using them. LOL! Love old white heart beads, especially the red color. New white hearts are too uniform. Have a great weekend!

  4. It's a wonderful blog. Thanks for including my African trade beads necklace with the horse pendant. if you wish to see more of my jewelry you can check my shop at:



  5. Awesome spotlight! Off to check out some of the links.


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