Beads can be traced back to their earliest origins in many cultures by way of their use in bartering. Beads were an early currency and they still retain their value today, but more in a form of decorative jewelry than in a monetary sense.
In earlier times, beads were made from a variety of materials from fishbone right through to teeth and as cultures become more sophisticated, so did the materials that beads were made from
Today beads are mostly used in jewelry making and for embellishing textiles used in the fashion industry. Glass lamp-work beads are often used instead of plastic buttons to give garments more of a designer look, and costume jewelers, as well as those making what is termed "fine jewelry," use beads of all descriptions to make their ranges unique and different .
Whilst fine jewelry houses may predominately use gemstone beads, the costume jewelry market tenders to use a range of plastic, acrylic, wood, and glass beads. It's the versatility of the materials on offer as well as the individual style of beads that lend them to being used in a variety of ways. Because of the endless stringing combinations as well as the plethora of cuts and finishes, beaded jewelry need never look dull, boring or dated.
In recent years the home craft market has seen an explosion in the use and sale of beads. Where once they were primarily used as small detailed embellishments for needle work projects, the last decade has seen a surge of interest in beads for other craft projects. There have been beaded candle holders, beaded curtains and beaded wind charms, as well as a return of interest in classic jewelry making.
In the 1970s home made jewelry was once seen as the prerogative of the Hippie, and long strands of love beads were as interesting as it got. But as with everything else, the internet has had a direct impact on the jewelry making market, and crafters are now easily able to communicate with each other about new techniques and trends.
The resurgence of the Hippie Bohemian look of the last few years in fashion has seen many people return to the art of jewelry making with beads, but the styles and individual expression has meant that we have all benefited from a new modern look in beaded fashion
The bead charm bracelet for is a classic examples of how a bohemian theme can be applied to a modern look. The charm bracelet made an appearance in jewelry in the 1950s, it has remained popular every since, but has been considered as more of a classic jewelry line, being made from precious metals. The resurgence of the 1970's influenced bohemian look allowed the home jewelry maker to use their love of beads and update the classic look. Suddenly charm bracelets full of colorful glass beads were everywhere from the high fashion catwalk to the high street. And the beauty for the home crafter was that they could create their own style from the large variety of beads now available to make their own unique fashion statement.
Styles may come and go, but beads will always be in vogue and whether your choice is a long string of pearls or a plastic stretchy bead bracelet, the humble bead is here to stay.