Choosing and taking care of your bead necklaces

Whenever you have to choose a bead necklace for buying or just for wearing, a lot of questions arise even if you are unaware of it.
Taking care of your bead necklaces not only needs love but some knowhow too.

These pages intend to be your guide.

As long as humanity exists, there are beads, and bead necklaces can even be considered as an expression of being human. Thus, that deep inner voice, longing for decorating ourselves with bead necklaces is most probably inborn and exists among all people all over the world.

This guide is written as a book and there is some logic in the order of the chapters, but every chapter can be read separately, as you like.

Shall we get started?

Russian beadwork made of tiny glass seed beads (rocailles), inner length 24'' 60cm., outer length 30'' 76cm. Bicentennial USA necklace in the national colors red, white and blue, made of glass beads and chain, 1976, length 60'' 150cm.

The First Steps

Whenever you stand in front of a lot of bead necklaces, in a luxury shop or on a busy market or just in front of your own necklaces box at home, do not panic but just ask yourself some questions:

  • For whom the necklace is intended: yourself or somebody else.
  • How is the body configuration
  • What age of the wearer we are dealing with
  • What style do we prefer for the person or the occasion
  • How long do we want the necklace to be
  • What is its weight
  • Last but not least when we intend to buy: How much are you willing to pay for it and is it worth the price?
If it is or will be yours, try it out on the dress or whatever else it is intended for. Keep in mind that the necklace together with your hairdo is like a frame around your face and is together with your head and upper part of your body three dimensional.

If it is intended for somebody else (in most cases that somebody else will be a she) what is her taste, does she has a favorite color, what are the colors of her skin, hair and eyes. Try to remember the body configuration of that other person. Is she tall or small, thick or thin. A very delicate necklace for a big woman makes her a giant, a very big necklace for a fragile women makes her a clown.

In short: Who will be the lucky owner of the necklace? What are her body configuration, age and preferred materials. Pay attention to style, color, length and weight of the necklace and to its price of course.

Elegant vintage necklace made of black Czech French jet glass and gold color metal bow beads, Czechoslovakia, 1960's, length inner row 16.5'' 42cm., outer row 18'' 45cm.

When you have decided to buy a necklace, do as follows:

Set some necklaces you like aside and in case it will be yours, put it on and have a critical look into a mirror. In most cases the seller will have no objection and is eager to help you with the closure. No more frustration than nervous hands who are unfamiliar with the clasp and you will refrain from trying it on (or damage the necklace, oh no).
There are situations you will be unable to try the necklace around your neck, like buying on-line or because the situation does not allow for it. In that case pay special attention to the desired length by looking at the bead necklaces which are already in your possession to see which length flatters you most.

Necklace made of sliced Conus shell, coconut and small glass beads, Philippines, inner length 24'' 60cm., outer length 26'' 66cm. Necklace made of imitation and real green plastic beads, 1970's, length 32'' 82cm.

"beads" in other languages

Cherished bead materials like pearls and coral have lent their names to the word for bead in many languages. In German the word for bead is perle - perlen, in French perle - perles, in Spanish perla - perlas to mention a few.
Coral gave its name to the word for bead in Dutch: kraal - kralen as well as korale in Czech.
In contrast: the English word bead - beads dates back at least some 600 years and originates from the old- English bede = prayer, the same root as bid, beodan = to offer, biddan = to ask and is directly related to the use of beads in the prayer strand.

© 2009 Tsipporah Sofer. All Rights Reserved