The Magical Effect of Beads
History has not given much prominence nor highlighted elaborate information on Beads. However, adequate data is available from various sources to make an interesting impact on the curiosity. Way back in pre-historic times, such versatile, beautiful and shiny beads inspired the imagination of the tribal people of many continents. These small, attractive and eco-friendly decorative objects were usually used to craft ethnic jewelry items. Beads are pierced, strung and woven together with special threads, flexible wire or are embroidered on to a cloth’s surface. The 100,000 years-old beads created from Nassarius sea snail shells are believed to be the earliest known crafted jewelry examples.
Apart from jewelry purposes, beads are known to enjoy other utilities. Ethnic beads have symbolic power and are used in prayers like the rosary beads. Some are worn for de-stressing effects while others are adorned for curing diseases. In some countries, such as Ghana, they are a form of currency while in few other nations they are used for various gaming purposes. Other known uses range from teaching tools, keeping inventory and even calendars. If research is conducted on this subject, a sizeable list may emerge.
However, the fundamental utility of beads remains as decorative items. Their resilience and light-weight characteristics assist in creating designer jewelry items. Such ornament pieces are not merely confined to necklaces, bracelets and earrings, but designer-inspired beaded dresses, headdresses, belts and even shoes. History is replete with examples of gaudy dresses, colorful jewelry and vibrant adornments crafted from beads made from natural materials. With passage of time, bead-work spread to other objects, ranging from beaded handbags, masks to beaded curtains. These decorative stones beads enjoy global popularity and are treasured for their beauty and value.
Beads are classified under different categories: their evolution period, location, manufacturing procedures, usage of component materials, surface characteristics, overall size and shape. With advancement in human technology, the process of carving out gemstone beads from their natural rock settings became easier. This discovery led to a wider availability of natural beads that were used in crafting stunning stone-set jewelry items.
Currently, natural beads from both organic and inorganic materials undergo color or radiance enhancement through dyes or irradiation. This is applicable for both pearl and amber beads. Coral, ivory, bones, woods are few examples of organic beads while gemstones and metal beads are from inorganic natural materials. Beads from brass, bronze alloys and silver are vulnerable to oxidation; but have a presence in the fashion scene and are a style statement for the present young generation as well as for the fashion conscious.
Modern manufacturing has diversified the availability of beads further. Synthetic beads have carved a niche area, and the oldest materials used in this form of bead making were glass and ceramics. These are termed as fusible beads that come in a variety of colors and shapes. These glitter in the dark, have an internal glow and different levels of clarity. Some of the glass beads have a greater percentage of lead oxide that enhances the refractive character, making them highly glittery and transparent. The most popular amongst the lead crystal beads are the Swarovski varieties that are normally crafted into pendants, necklaces, bracelets and rings.
Most of the manufactured beads employ special techniques like metal-working and glass-working or a combination of both methods for producing the desired polish. The mass-produced glass-working beads are either pressed or fire polished. The distinctive Dichroic and lamp-working glass beads emit a mesmerizing effect, which are used for designing many colorful and attractive ornaments. The imitation “Faux” beads, appearing as original gemstones to the naked eye, pearls or ivory pieces are crafted into inexpensive trendy jewelry items that are commercially aimed for the youngsters. At times, small beads are fused together to create a multi-colored attractive pattern in chevron beads that have a psychedelic effect. These are ideal for crafting modern ornamental designs.
The bead shapes are also multifarious and are termed as seed, bugle or hair-pipe. The latter type evolves from bison / buffalo horns and is used to ornament breast plates or chokers. The small sized uniformly shaped seed beads are mainly seen in bead woven jewelry items. Beads are also classified on the basis of their origin. The renowned Austrian crystal beads from cut lead have been used in designer jewelry, while the Czech glass beads are famous for their workmanship and clarity. Vintage beads are generally more than 25 years old and are made from materials like plastic, metal, glass and crystal.
The extensive collection of beautiful bead jewelry suits any style. Their rich color and sparkle have been show-cased in the form of exquisite ornament pieces like bracelets, earrings and necklaces. The current range of stunning bead jewelry is influencing fashion trends since they can be availed at affordable prices that appeal to the eco-conscious customers.