When you hear the word "beads," do you immediately think of jewelry? Or do you think of Rosary beads or some other non-jewelry use of beads-beaded dresses, headbands, belts? Perhaps you think of a country and western outfit, a studded, head-to-toe piece of jewelry.
The first thought that enters your mind when you hear the word "beads" may date you and give away your age faster than physical attributes. If you're a product of the 50's, your mind may wander to pop beads, those plastic pull apart, pop together baubles that have risen in value from pennies to $20, $30 or more. If you're a product of the 60's, you may think of "love beads," which complemented the long-haired, unkempt look, or your mind may wander to the long strands of beads that once adorned inside doorways in Haight Ashbury with sounds of The Mamas and the Papas blaring in the background. Thanks to television, it's difficult to forget the beaded belts of the 70s.
From Ancient Trade to Modern Computer Applications
Beads predate the mid-20th century by eons. Remember the abacus? Of course, you can't actually remember back 2000 years unless you possess powers unknown to this author, but you can remember learning about the abacus in school. In Europe, Venetian glass beads and German metal beads served as currency in trade as early as the 16th century. Beads also played a central role in Native American jewelry.
Bohemia (aptly named) was the center of the European bead trade from as far back as the Middle Ages. Through the twists and turns of history, bead making moved to Bavaria and now, has once again found its home in the Chezk Republic, in the Bohemia area, home of Swarovski Austrian crystals.
In 1990, Native American traditional beadwork intersected with computer sciences. Several college campuses introduced a pilot program in which beadwork shaped the foundation for courses AutoCad and other design program courses for Native American students. The popularity and applicability of these courses continues today.
Now that we've strolled down memory lane and taken a quick look at vintage beads, beads no longer in production, where do beads fit into today's jewelry scene? They're everywhere you look from casual chokers and necklaces to fine Swarovski Austrian crystal designs.
Think beyond a single strand of beads. Start by thinking of a single strand of beads from which a pendant dangles. From there, think pins-yes, pins adorned with beads, beaded bracelets, barrettes, earrings, etc. In fact, think beyond jewelry to purses and other accessories. If you look closely at your surroundings, you'll find beads everywhere.
The Many Faces of Beads
Another thing that you might rethink is the composition and shape of beads. Today's beads come in a myriad of shapes and materials, with Austrian crystal topping the list. Today's look du jour of transparent, translucent and iridescent beads don the bodies of the rich and famous along with everyday mortals. Venetian glass beads often encapsulate swirls within the beads for a unique, timeless quality.
The latest in fashion trends includes little beaded silk purses. While you wouldn't want to cover yourself in head-to-toe beads unless you're auditioning for a singing gig in Nashville, a silk beaded purse with a complementary beaded necklace turns an ordinary evening outfit into a walking work of art.
Open your eyes and look for one-of-a-kind, handmade beaded jewelry. It's everywhere, and it's calling your name.
M J Plaster is a successful author who provides information on shopping online for beads and jewelry in general. M J Plaster has been a commercial freelance writer for almost two decades, most recently specializing in home and garden, the low-carb lifestyle, investing, and anything that defines la dolce vita.