Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Beads From Africa And A Great Giveway!

While you and I play and create and make a livelihood with our beads, I wonder how many of us realise the profound influence beads have had in the history of our world.

Take beads from Africa for example. Back when European explorers, traders and missionaries were venturing into the African continent, one of the important items they took with them was beads. Beads, mainly of glass, were used as gifts or for barter and trade. Glass beads were exchanged for water, food, gold, ivory, and many such commodities and sadly also for slaves.

We have all heard of African Trade Beads! Today these beads are valuable because of their age, their historical significance and their beauty. Recently I checked out the collection of African Trade Beads for sale at  So much history, so much variety, aren't they beautiful?

African cultures that used beads in their everyday life, opened up to these bright and colorful European beads, and are now known by such joyful names as Christmas Beads (I think they are called that because of they remind one of colorful Christmas decorations) and Wedding Beads (a gift to brides on their wedding day). What fun designs come to mind when I see these colorful beads!

Multi-colored Christmas Beads
The Bridal Mali Wedding Beads

Today, beads made in Africa are a product of their environment and are often made from natural material such as wood, seed, shell, bone, and recycled material such as glass and paper.

Check out this video report that CNN made of What I would give to walk through a bead market in Ghana! Wouldn't that be an adventure?

If you are like me and enjoy working with such exotic beads, you don't have to travel to Africa. You got to look no further than Their store carries a wide variety of colorful beads from Africa, both those used for trade and those made there. The selection of beads span the vast African continent from Ethiopia to South Africa, and from Mali to Ghana. Check it out for yourselves.

And now for the Great Giveaway! has generously agreed to give a $25.00 GIFT CERTIFICATE to shop their store for beads of your choice. 

To get your name in the draw you have to leave me a comment on this blog before the 24th of October.

  • I would like to know if you have used African beads in any of your jewelry designs? If yes, let me know what kind. 
  • Then visit and tell me if you had your choice, which would be your favorite strand of beads?
  • If you blog about this giveaway to tell all your friends about it, you will be entered  twice.

Please make sure I have your email address to contact you if you should win this fabulous prize.
Don't miss this chance to purchase some exotic African beads and add a new look to your jewelry designs.
The lucky winner will be announced on October 25th.

African beads for sale!
The Bead Chest is a leading online retailer of trade beads, millefiori beads, Krobo beads, and other great glass beads.


Lisa Crone said...

Hi Regina, thanks for the great info! I've never used african beads that I know of and if I had my choice from the beadchest, I would go with the mali wedding beads for sure, they are so FUN! :)

Dave Robertson said...

Hi Regina, awesome idea for a giveaway. I love trade beads, and I'm lucky enough to work around thousands of them every day at Rings & Things :)

I want to also let you know via your blog (how appropriate), that you've been selected as one of Rings & Things' September "Blog Partners" winners!

Email me, or contact me via Facebook or Twitter, to let me know your postal address - - and I'll get your "Goodie Bag" right to you!


-- Dave
at Rings & Things

Boot ~C said...

nice article on trade beads. I was lucky years ago to find a stash of them & used them to make myself bracelets. I recently bought a few more strands @ a festival & haven't decided what I wil do w/ these. If I had 'free money' @ The Bead Chest I would probably buy some of the snake beads,those are pretty much the only kind I've never had.

Boot ~C said...

Hi again, I wanted you to know I posted abot your giveaway on my blog.P/S congrats on being chosen for the rings&things program, I was too! Wonder what they are sending us.....

The Beading Gem said...

Thanks for the great tip on the Bead Chest. I haven`t designed with African trade beads (the Krobo ones are so cool) before but I have written a historical post about them -

Just off to Facebook to tell everyone about this great giveaway!

jsarina1 said...

Great post! I can't believe I've never used african beads before. I'm going to have to try it.

I think the phono record beads are so neat. I've never seen that kind of bead before!

Reena555 said...

I had the opportunity to go to Ghana a few years ago, and the beads I saw were just beautiful! I have worn them as beautiful bracelets.

If I had the chance, I would pick the Green Swirl Recycled Glass Beads (Small)


Regina said...

Thank you all for your comments. I agree there are some beautiful beads to be had. Good Luck to you all.

WildGift said...

* I haven't had an opportunity to purchase any African beads yet, although they are lovely.

* The large recycled glass beads are my favourite.

* Shared you on my Twitter jewelry account!

Pretty Things said...

A lovely informative post! I've never had the good fortune to have any African beads but admired some awesome ones from a vendor from Ghana. REALLY neat.

Copper Diem said...

I love the recycled glass & Mali beads - so pretty!

Copper Diem said...

And I blogged about it!!

Shaiha said...

I have never used african beads but I am more then willing to change that answer.

I really like the Mali Clay Spindle Whorl Beads. I can only imagine what I would make with them.


baglady said...

I have used african trade beads before but have not seen the besd chest website before. It's great to shop around- so many great choices. I love the brass beads in unusual shapes- it would be very easy to use a gift certificate!

Valerie said...

Hi Regina, thank you for leaving me a comment on my blog! In answer to your question about show tips, I would say the best advice I can give is to do a dry run setup at home. I stress over how to do my set up, so practicing helps me. I always take a box of jewelry tools, plenty of change in my cash box and my camera. Then after I set up, I try to sit back and enjoy meeting everyone! I'm sure you will do well, your jewelry is beautiful!
Good luck.

annc999 said...

I haven't used African beads, but I love the Superb teal color African beads made from glass on the site.

Azure Islands Designs said...

Hey Regina...what a fabulous contest!!! I've used the Christmas, bone & sand cast African beads. In fact this spring I made two bracelets with the sand cast for sisters who do work in Africa and were going back there this year!!! So exciting...
I would love a strand of the Old Antique Millefiori Trade colorful and unique!!!

Sharayah said...

Using beads that a missionary brought back from Africa I designed a beautiful choker, primarily black accented with white. I collected, & designed necklaces + earrings using trade beads. They are full of history hat it makes it that much more to part with... they are special.

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