African Christmas Beads

I discovered African Christmas Beads during a local bead shopping trip with my sister in law several months ago.  Immediately attracted to their bright colors and diversity of size and shape, I grabbed a couple of strands even though I had no idea what I would do with them.  I just knew I had to have them!

As you might have guessed, the term “trade beads” refers to beads used in place of currency.  In Africa, trade beads were used by Europeans to trade with the native people for slaves, services and local goods.  Most were produced in Venice; others came from Holland and Bohemia.   Christmas beads – sometimes called  “peace beads” or “love beads” – date as far back as the mid nineteenth century and are Czech-made.  Imported from Ghana, they symbolize peace and goodwill.  Solid and striped, opaque and translucent, crafted from glass or plastic, some of these beads have tiny imperfections, which only adds to their charm.

I ended up using my beautiful beads to create a reversible pendant which has become a signature item in my Etsy store (click HERE).  Since then, I have purchased several more strands and plan to use them in bracelets, ankle bracelets and earrings.  In the meantime, I am always on the lookout for unusual components for my designs.


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