You might feel that the history of handcrafted beaded jewelry cannot possibly be very interesting, but in fact, it is quite intriguing to learn where this part of culture began. Some say that the beginnings of beaded jewelry began more than 70,000 years ago when man found the beads and gems and thought it was incredibly beautiful. Beaded jewelry has been used in many ways. One way is simply for beauty. Another is for value. Some would trade and buy with beaded jewelry or beads. And some cultures even used them as talisman. So how was beaded jewelry initially created? Let’s take a look.
Although a man or a woman living in those times would not possibly have any practical use for them; however, they could not carry them around without modern day bags or carrying devices, nor did they have pockets. So, as legend tells us, they attached the gemstones or beads to leather straps and wore them around their neck to create the first handcrafted beaded jewelry. Over time, handcrafted beaded jewelry started to become a status symbol. Those with power and wealth were the ones who had beaded jewelry. Beads even have been used as an item of value for which trade could be made.
Handcrafted beaded jewelry has been made out of many types of beads. Beads have been known to be made out of glass, bone, porcelain, shells, paper, clay, metals, gemstones, ivory, and even wood. Bead craftsman often held the trade secrets in confidence. They were expected to keep the bead-making skills a secret. Some of them even risked themselves if they failed to keep the information to themselves. Mass production of beads didn’t even begin until the 1800s when glass beading became widely available. It was at this time that Swarovski created their process for making their special beads which are still in high demand today. Even today, the secrets of how their beads are made are kept secret.
Different parts of the world created different types of handcrafted beaded jewelry. Central and South America are known for their wampum and quill creations, while Native American beadwork usually included a lot of turquoise and silver. Bead making in France began as early as 38,000 BC! Worry beads, Filigree, and highly decorated ceramic beads originated in Greece, while Italy specialized in the Murano glass beads. There are dozens of other countries not yet discussed here, but beaded jewelry has a rich and vast history that is incredibly interesting. Suffice it to say that there is a rich cultural tradition with wearing beaded jewelry.