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Agate - Agate is a microcrystalline variety of quartz, chiefly chalcedony, characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks but can be common in certain metamorphic rocks. Colorful agates and other chalcedonies were obtained over 3,000 years ago from the Achates River, now called Dirillo, in Sicily. The stone was given its name by Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher and naturalist, who discovered the stone along the shore line of the river Achates sometime between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. The agate has been recovered at a number of ancient sites, indicating its widespread use in the ancient world; for example, archaeological recovery at the Knossos site on Crete illustrates its role in Bronze Age Minoan culture.
Amazonite - Amazonite is a gem variety of microcline feldspar. It displays a schiller of light which is caused by inclusions. Schiller is a lustrous reflection from planes in a mineral grain and is similar to what is more commonly known as iridescence. The schiller is caused by a feature of the stone's crystal structure. Orthoclase feldspar and albite are present in close association, arranged in layers. This causes an interference effect of light. Amazonite is found in the United States, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Russia, Australia, Namibia. Amazonite is usually light green to blue-green, mottled, and sometimes contains light striations. This semi-opaque stone was used extensively by the Egyptians, and it is called the stone of courage and is said to be named after the Amazon women warriors. Some archaeological evidence suggests that the Amazonians were a matriarchal society during the Bronze Age. Another legend says the name Amazonite comes from the belief that it was found in the Amazon river.
Amber - Hardened resin produced by trees to protect against disease and insect infestation when the bark was damaged. After oozing out, it hardens in wet sediments, such as clay and sand that's formed at the bottom of lagoons or river deltas. It was preserved for millennia in the earth's crust.
Ammonite - Officially recognized as a gemstone in 1981, the organic gemstone Ammolite is the fossilized remains of a long extinct sea creature called an Ammonite. This pendant offers a fascinating and unique look into the long distant past. Ammonites were a cephalopod, and the ancestor of the squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus, that became extinct during the cretaceous period over 70,000,000 years ago.)
Bauxite - Bauxite is a kind of aluminium ore and is a beautiful dark rusty chestnut color. These wonderful old beads are cut, carved, polished and drilled by hand in Africa. Most of the production of bauxite beads today is in Ghana, African, in a small village called Akyem Abompe. It is a unique center of bead production where practically each family is maintaining themselves through manufacture of beads. The patina of bauxite beads is warm and earthy and the most beautiful are said to be the ones which have been worn for a while and have absorbed natural human oil and sweat.
Bohemian Wedding Beads - These beads were worn throughout West Africa and in Mali for weddings. Mali wedding beads, were made in Bohemia and traded in Africa in the early 1900s. These are old trade beads and show a few signs of wear, part of the character of an antique trade bead.
Cane Glass - These beads are handmade by gathering glass on a pipe in a furnace over 2000 degrees. The glass has a core color to which many layers of color from glass or precious metal can be added. A blowpipe is used to blow a bubble into the center of the glass. The glass is pulled, creating a long hollow tube referred to as a cane. The pulled cane is then cooled to room temperature. The cane is hand cut with a diamond saw, then tumbled to smooth out the rough edges. The beads are then fire- polished with a torch or in a kiln for a shiny finish.
Carnelian - Carnelian is from the heart of the agate. Carnelian has long held a presence in world history and the beliefs and customs of civilizations. From Europe, to Asia, to the Middle East, archeologists have found uses for carnelian. Some of the oldest examples of jewelry contained carnelian. It symbolized authority and great wealth in ancient Egyptian times. In the 16th century, Nigerian kings wore carnelian and presented the stone to esteemed vistors.
Chrysocolla - Chrysocolla, hydrated copper silicate, is a mineral. It is of secondary origin and forms in the oxidation zones of copper ore bodies. Associated minerals are quartz, limonite, azurite, malachite, cuprite, and other secondary copper minerals. Chrysocolla has an attractive blue-green color. It is also used as an ornamental stone. Because of its light color, it is sometimes confused with turquoise. Commonly it occurs only as pourous crusts unsuitable for gem use, but high quality, gem grade chrysocolla can be translucent and is highly prized.The name comes from the Greek chrysos, "gold", and kolla, "glue", in allusion to the name of the material used to solder gold, and was first used by Theophrastus in 315 BC.
Copal - Beads made from the natural resin of trees sometimes referred to as pom. The word is derived from the Nahuatl language word copalli, meaning incense.
Copper - Copper is a shiny, orange colored metal that is medium in weight, strong, and easy to shape. The discovery of copper dates to prehistoric times. There are reports of copper beads dating back to 9000 BC found in Iraq.
Dogon - The Dogon people are an ethnic group located mainly in the districts of Bandiagara and Douentza in Mali, West Africa. Dogons are old glass beads handcrafted by the Dogon People.
Dzi - Dzi is the Tibetan word for unique bead. Prized by collectors, these rare ancient beads have a rich history in lore and mysticism. Among the many myths and legends that follow the Dzi, the main belief is that the gods created them. They were said to bring luck, ward off evil, and protect the wearer from physical harm.
Fulani Seed Beads - These beads are wound glass made in Europe and found in Africa. Their approximate age is from the late 1800's to early 1900's. Wonderful multi-strand necklaces and waist belts were worn by the Fulani women of Africa. Traditionally these "belts" were worn around the waist and under skirts and not typically displayed in public. They come in various colors of old seed beads, strand counts, and lengths. The Fulani people of West Africa are the largest nomadic group in the world. As a group they contain a vast array of diverse people who were conquered and became a part of the Fulani through the spread of Islam.
German Silver - German silver is an alloy of 45% - 70% copper, 5% - 30% nickel, and 8% - 45% zinc. Sometimes small amounts of tin or lead are added. It has a color resembling silver. Some German silver is gold-plated. The discovery of German silver dates back to the early 19th century and is attributed to the German chemist, E. A. Geitner.
Givre - These are beads that are either clear or transparent, and that have a cloud of opaque colored glass in the center or in part of the bead.
Hebron - These beads were made in Hebron before 1880, and could possibly be older than 500 years, as this type of bead first came into production just after the 12th century. They are wound glass and were made by using Dead Sea salt as their alkali.
Hilltribe Silver - This silver is handmade by the Karen Tribe. Each piece is crafted by hand using techniques passed down from generation to generation. The mix used has a higher silver content at 95% - 99% than sterling silver, which is 92.5% More silver in the mix makes for a softer metal that is easier to bend and shape.
Ipil Seed - Ipil seed comes from the Intsia bijuga tree that grows in mangroves in Southeast Asia and islands in the Pacific Ocean. It is a member of the tropical Caesalpiniaceae family. It grows to around160 feet and is the official tree of the United States territory of Guam. The tree has a variety of common names including ipil, merbau and kwila. Due to extensive logging of the tree, it is endangered in many places in Southeast Asia, and almost extinct in some.
Jade - Jade is a generic term for two different gems, nephrite and jadeite. Jadeite and nephrite are both regarded in China as 'zhen yu', 'genuine jade'. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that mineralogists and gemmologists started to differentiate between them, since they bear a considerable resemblance to each other in terms of their appearance, their hardness and the properties they exhibit when being processed. Both are tough, since they consist of dense, close-grained, matted aggregates, but they differ from one another in their chemical composition and colours. Nephrite ranges mainly from mid to dark green or grey-green, but it can also be white, yellowish or reddish. Rarer, and somewhat tougher, jadeite displays hues which include green, but also white or pink, and reds, blacks, browns and violets. In both minerals, the way the colour is distributed varies a great deal. Only in the very finest jade is the colour evenly distributed. Both nephrite and jadeite often have veins, blemishes and streaks running through them, though these may not always be regarded as flaws. On the contrary, some of these patterns are considered particularly valuable.
Javanese Glass - These beads were made in Java, Indonesia.
King Beads - King beads are wonderful old Venetian wound and marvered bicone beads. Sometime in the past, probably in the heyday of the import of African Trade beads in the early 1970s, these were given the name of King beads. The legend has it that these were worn by African Kings (Chiefs). These beads come in a large variety of colors and sizes, but always in a bicone shape. Old Venetian King beads were made up to the 1920s. Still revered in Africa today, these old beads are on prominent display in Dipo Intiation ceremonies in Ghana, where the yellow forms , in particular, represent maturity and prosperity. This would explain the popularity of the yellow striped King beads. King beads are highly collectable and there are some spectacular private collections of these beads in America, Africa, Japan and Europe.
Krobo - Krobo powder glass beads are generally made in West Africa, specifically Ghana. These African beads are made by the Ashanti and Krobo tribes, and were made in the 1900's. Krobo beads are made from power glass, which comes from finely ground glass most commonly made out of recycled broken bottles and other scrap glasses. These beads are made in vertical molds filled with finely ground glass that is layered to create different colorful designs. The beads are fired in clay kilns until the recycled glass fuses.
Kukui - A Polynesian plant species introduced to the Hawaiian Islands more than a thousand years ago, the kukui, better known as the candlenut, has long been valued. The nuts of this tree provided the ancient Hawaiians with light, oil, relishes and medicine.
Labradorite - Labradorite is a sodium rich plagioclase feldspar. It displays a particular type of iridescence on a dark to light smoke gray background. This effect is derived from a mosaic arrangement of platelets of different compositions and minute inclusions of ilmenite, rutile, and magnetite, which cause light diffraction. When light strikes Labradorite from a particular direction, it may display striking rainbow-colored reflections (violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red) known as "Labradorescence" or "Schiller."
Lampwork Glass - These are handmade glass beads. The artisan creates a bead over an open flame by melting rods of colored glass onto a thin steel rod. Once the bead is created, it can be decorated with different colors of glass, which is melted on to the surface. The bead is then annealed to set the glass.
Lapis Lazuli - Lapis lazuli is a rock, not a mineral. The main component of lapis lazuli is lazurite, a feldspathoid silicate mineral composed of sodium, aluminium, silicon, oxygen, sulfur, and chloride. Most lapis lazuli also contains calcite (white), sodalite (blue) and pyrite (metallic yellow). Other possible constituents are augite, diopside, enstatite, mica, hauynite, hornblende and nosean. Some contain trace amounts of the sulfur rich lollingite variety geyerite. Lapis lazuli usually occurs in crystalline marble as a result of contact metamorphism. The finest color is intense blue, lightly dusted with small flecks of golden pyrite. Stones with no white calcite veins and only small pyrite inclusions are more prized. Patches of pyrite are an important help in identifying the stone as genuine and do not detract from its value.
Naga - The Nagas were primitive Himalayan peoples between Tibet, India and Burma, with distinctive bead jewelry. Naga Shell is a conch shell, generally found in this region, carved in to beads. Naga was revered for centuries with the ancient culture and traded with sea bordering countries.
Old Stone Quartz - These old stone quartz beads come in various size and shapes. These are wonderful ancient dig beads which were excavated from the areas surrounding an ancient African city in Mali. Most of the beads found have been carnelian, jasper, quartz, and there have been lesser quantity of glass beads found. The stone beads were imported to Africa from the Indus Valley. The origins of the glass beads is still in dispute, but many of the leading bead experts consider them to be of Early Islamic manufacture.
Onyx - Onyx is a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. The colors of its bands range from white to almost every color (except some shades of purple and blue). Commonly, specimens of onyx contain bands of colors such as white, tan, and brown. Black Onyx is said to eliminate negative thinking and help people to change their habits. Onyx was very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans. The name comes from the Greek word 'onyx', which means nail or claw. The story is that one day the frisky Cupid cut the divine fingernails of Venus with an arrowhead while she was sleeping. He left the clippings scattered on the sand and the fates turned them into stone so that no part of the heavenly body would ever perish. Onyx which is reddish brown and white is known as sardonyx. Sardonyx was highly valued in Rome, especially for seals, because it was said never to stick to the wax. The Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio was known for wearing it a good deal. Onyx is found mostly in India and South America.
Padre - Padre beads were used extensively by North American Indians for adornment and trade. Padre beads are wound, opaque glass beads. These beads are believed to have beenn manufactured in the 16 - 18th centuries in China and subsequently traded by the Spanish and Russian traders in the southwest and northwest.
Pelinut - Nut is a general term for the large, dry, oily seeds or fruit of some plants. While a wide variety of dried seeds and fruits are called nuts, only a certain number of them are considered by biologists to be true nuts. Nuts are both the seed and the fruit, and cannot be separated. The origin of the Pelinut is unknown, but most likely tropical.
Pigeon Eggs - Pigeon eggs are a molded Bohemian trade beads. They were made in Europe and found in Africa. They were made in the early 1900s. Some of these beads have traveled at least three continents. Small chips, corrosion, and pitting are part of their patina and attest to their age and extensive use.
Pumtek - Pumtek beads are found in eastern Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and are made of fossilized wood. Original Pumtek beads were created during the Pyu period and purchased by the Chin tribes in surrounding areas. These Pumtek were made from the opalized fossilized wood of the palm Borassus flabellifer. Newer Pumtek were made from fossilized wood, probably from the tree Dipterocarpoxylon burmenses.
Quartz - Quartz is the most abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, although feldspar is more common in the world as a whole. It is made up of a lattice of silica tetrahedra. Pure quartz is colorless or white; common colored varieties include rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and others.
Reconstructed Amber - Reconstruction is the process of combining several pieces of similar material with heat and or pressure to produce larger pieces. This process is used in reconstructed amber.
Russian Blues - Russian blues are old hand-faceted beads. The jeweler held each bead against the grinding wheel several times. These beads were probably made in Bohemia, and carried by the Russian fur trade to the Pacific Northwest in the early 1800s. They were also traded in Africa. The Matabele in what is now Zimbabwe brought them to offer to "witchdoctors" as a tribute to their great God by Russian traders.
Sardonyz - Sardonyx is an onyx with alternating brown and white bands of sard and other minerals.
Sherpa Coral - These are glass beads 100 to 400 years old. They were made for the vast majority of Tibetans who could not afford real coral. The Sherpa coral is highly prized for its significance in Tibetan culture, as red is considered a very auspicious color and brings luck. Most of the coral seen in old Tibetan jewelry is Sherpa coral.
Sibucao - These seeds comes from the Caesalpinia sappan (Fabaceae) tree commonly called Sibukaw Tree. The tree is distributed widely in the Philippines. The seeds are used against stomach aches and nervous disorders.
Spindle Bead - Ecuadorian "spindle" beads were used to spin cotton and llama hair. These carved beads can be dated from 1,500 BC to 1,500 AD. Made by two different tribal groups, the designs are either geometric or fanciful fauna.
Sponge Coral - Sponge coral is known scientifically as melithaea ochracea, and despite its name, it is not a sponge at all. Instead, it is a type of coral that has a sponge like appearance.
Sterling Silver - Sterling is the standard of purity for silver. Sterling silver denotes any silver alloy in which pure silver makes up at least 92.5 percent of the content.
Swarovski - Daniel Swarovski registered a patent in 1892 for his machine that cut cystal with greater speed and precision than the manual process. This was the start of one of the most sought after crystal production centers in art history. Swarovski founded his company in the Alps in 1895. In the late 19th century crystals were used to enhance formal wear. Taking advantage of this trend in 1913, Swarovski created his own crystals exclusively for the fashion industry.
Tiger Eye - Tiger eye is a chatoyant gemstone that is usually a metamorphic rock that is yellow- to red-brown, with a silky luster. A member of the quartz group, it is a classic example of pseudomorphous replacement by silica of fibrous crocidolite (blue asbestos). An incompletely silicified blue variant is called Hawk's eye.Tiger's Eye mostly comes from South Africa.
Trade Bead - The term trade bead typically applies to beads made predominantly in Venice and Bohemia and other European countries from the late 1400s to the early 1900s and traded in Africa and the Americas. Many of these beads have been attributed to being made in Germany, France, and the Netherlands as well. One of the most intriguing aspects to these beads is how they have survived a hundred or more years of wear and travel through at least three continents. Another mystery is who wore them before us who will have them next. There are exceptional museum collections of trade beads at the Museum of Mankind in London, the Pitt River Museum in Oxford, the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Belgium, the Murano Museum of Glass in Italy, the Tropical Royal Institute of Amsterdam, the Bead Museum in Arizona, US and the Picard Trade Bead Museum in California, US to name a few.
Turquoise - Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminum. It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gem and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. Turquoise was among the first gems to be mined, and while many historic sites have been depleted, some are still worked to this day. These are all small-scale, often seasonal operations, owing to the limited scope and remoteness of the deposits. Most are worked by hand with little or no mechanization. However, turquoise is often recovered as a byproduct of large-scale copper mining operations, especially in the United States.
Vaseline Beads - Vaseline beads were made in the late 1800s - early 1900s. They were called Vaseline beads because of their greenish yellow color, caused by uranium salts, which were used as a coloring agent.
Vermeil - Vermeil is gold plated silver produced either by the fire-gilding method or by electrolysis.
Vintage Lucite - Lucite was actually popularized by DuPont in the 1930s as an alternative to the more expensive plastic called Bakelite. It started off being used for costume jewelry and in the 1950s became extremely popular. Lucite is very diverse, appearing in many forms, colors and styles. Lucite is more substantial than other plastic beads, but is surprisingly light. Lucite beads, an acrylic resin, are carved out of tubes of lucite as opposed to pressed in a mold, and therefore, there are no seams in the beads! Although clear in its original state, lucite can be tinted virtually any color, in ranges from transparent to opaque, with a few interesting variations along the way. Because many of the lucite beads being sold today are actually vintage beads that arent currently being manufactured, they can be a bit difficult to find sometimes. Moonglow Lucite is probably one of the most popular forms of Lucite. Moonglow pieces look as if lit from within, and come in a complete range of colors.
Vulcanite - Vulcanite beads were manufactured from vulcanized rubber and exported to West African countries by European industries, imitating local, African-made disk beads that enjoyed great popularity and which were made of a number of different natural materials such as shell and wood.
White Buffalo Turquoise - White buffalo turquoise was discovered in the Dry Creek Mine, north of Austin, Nevada, in 1993. The chemical name for turquoise is aluma phosphate which, in its pure chemical state, is white. Turquoise takes on color via an intrusion of either copper or iron. In the case of Dry Creek ore, the slight coloration, when present, is the result of copper. The more intrusion, the darker the color. White Turquoise forms where there are no heavy metals present, turns out to be a very rare occurrence. To date, no other vein of gem quality white turquoise has been discovered anywhere else in the world. When this current vein runs out, that will be the last of it. Because White Turquoise is as rare as a white buffalo, the Indians call it "White Buffalo" Turquoise. The White Turquoise is itself considered sacred and powerful.
White Hearts - White hearts are two layered beads with a translucent outer layer and a white inner layer. These extensively traded North American trade beads were originally made in Europe. Most white hearts are antique.
White Turquoise - White turquoise is actually a rock consisting primarily of quartz, calcite and alunite with only the slightest trace of turquoise.

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