A Beaded Story - The History of Beads

A Beaded Story - The History of Beads


It is undeniable that a set of gorgeous, authentic beads can really give an outfit the natural umph! Whether it’s earrings crafted from beads or even a touch of wrist or ankle beads, they have definitely become an accessory we simply cannot do without. 

As always, we cannot just talk about beads without touching on its history and you know we love a good history lesson! So here’s a brief one for you about our undying love for beads, how they came about, what they are made of and what they mean.

The existence of beads dates back to over some 12,000 years ago, originating from places like the Kalahari desert, Sudan and Libya in northern Africa. The initial beads that were crafted were made of eggshell, clay, twigs, stones, ivory and bones. In the latter years, glass beads were introduced by traders from Europe, India and the middle east.

Beads are made through the fusion of several materials, both natural and synthetic using regulated heat or fire to mould and form different types of shapes and sizes. The process of making beads is known as beadwork. Beadwork involves the threading of individual beads strung onto specialized thread, or soft, flexible wire or even in some cases, for interior decor purposes adhered to a surface.

Since the discovery of beads, they have been used primarily as accessories which many African tribes have used to symbolize pride, beauty, culture, power and identity. Beads were also used in some African economies, as a form of currency to pay for goods and services. It’s important to also note that Africans were sold in exchange for beads during the slave trade which puts emphasis on how valuable beads have been throughout the years.

Now that you have the history, things don’t end here! Look out for Part 2- The Beaded Evolution!

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