Along with a longstanding love of tribal jewelry, I have always been fascinated with beads. They are so common one hardly looks at them, but they tie us to earlier civilizations. Beads are still being used that are hundreds of years old, being traded and exported, dropped and dug up.
I wanted to begin this journey into the future with a chance to exercise my passion for beads.
They are universally worn by women, and many times men, in cultures around the world. They are a universal language, an accepted part of life. Some of the most ancient beads are extremely intricate. They were buried with their owner to show rank. Not always made of gemstones, some of the earliest, such as those from ancient Persia, were made of exquisite glass. The amber beads of Tibet were also talismans for the bearer, the bigger beads considered even more powerful. I was amazed to find cowrie shells threaded into necklaces in the barren stretches of the Himalayas! Sometimes the design of the bead offered magical benefits, such as dZi beads
We see beads everyday, but we don't stop to think about them. Etched dZi are still mysterious, the best rarely make it to market, but are retained by families in Tibet and Nepal. They are made from etched agate.
I still always look for beads, There is a wonderful opus on beads, called the History of Beads, published in 1987 by Lois Sherr Dubin. I am using a picture from her book..
Many of the necklaces I am featuring are handcrafted. I started collecting beads in the 1970's. Fortunately, I have lived in the same house since the 70's so I have never had to confront the practicality of traveling with boxes and boxes of loose beads.
So please forgive the emphasis on beaded necklaces as I begin this website, I assure you that other forms of jewelry will have more room in the future.
Once again old forms are still visible in contemporary Chinese Jewelry. This piece was probably worn on a belt.
This amber necklace is owned by a member of the Dalai Lama's family. Note the irregularity of the ambers .Matching ambers are not required. There are two beautiful dZi beads at the top.
This bead is a carefully mended very old Tibetan amber bead still treasured and useful.