Beaded Necklaces

All About Beaded Necklaces

In its simplest sense, a bead is just a little ball or disk with a hole in the middle. Thousands of years ago, some unknown genius noticed that it was possible (with a little effort) to bore a hole in a seed, or piece of shell, wood, bone, stone, amber or fired clay, then to slide it onto a string with others beads. Not too impressive, until you tie the ends of the string together, et viola! A beaded necklace, a nice piece of personal decoration that sets you apart from everyone else. The craze must have caught on, because archeologists consistently find beads in ancient sites all over the world. Aside from service as personal adornment, beaded necklaces have also been used as money. Remember the wampum of the Indians of New England? It was more than just a myth: wampum strings (essentially long necklaces made from seashells) served not just as currency, but as a way of keeping records.

These days, the basic raw materials of seed, bone, shell, stone, and ceramic have been joined by plastic, metal, and glass. Then there are the various types of pearls, the fruit of freshwater mussels and saltwater oysters; they've become such an important part of modern jewelry manufacture that some aquaculturalists have elected to raise mussels and oysters for no other reason. Given modern technological practices, beads of any of these materials are easy to produce and easily drilled. Some cost more than others, but beaded necklaces are still a basic and familiar part of modern jewelry manufacture.

Lovely versatility

Beaded necklaces have been evolving ever since that first caveperson strung together their new creation, so that today they're available in a huge variety of styles, lengths, color schemes, and materials. Your selection (especially with the ready availability of the Internet) is limited only by your budget and sense of style. Looking for an amethyst-studded pearl necklace? You got it. Prefer a necklace made of century-old African glass beads strung on dried grass? No problem. How about alternating gold, amber, and silver beads? If it doesn't already exist, it can be done. One the other hand, you can also find plenty of less-expensive beaded necklaces, made of materials ranging from plastic and glass to, yes, the original materials used in beaded necklaces: seeds, shell, bone, stone, wood and ceramic.

From surfer-boy puka-shell necklaces to strings of pearls to rosaries, all are variations on the same artistic theme, which just happens to be one of the oldest in human culture. As simple as they ultimately are, beaded necklaces have come a long way in the last few thousand years, and there's no telling where they'll go next. They're been with us as almost as long as we've been human, and in some form or another, will probably last as long as we do.

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