Using Bead Necklaces and Jewelry as Cosmetics
Bead necklaces and other jewelry are often used as cosmetics:
Fragrance in the form of aromatic jewelry has been worn by both men and women over the ages and across the world. Various forms of jewelry were created as a portable means for solid or liquid scent, or were themselves made of fragrant materials. So we know pomanders, pendant flacons and beads made of spices, scented wood, resinous materials and other well scented stuff.
Originally they were used to counteract offensive odors and supposedly to protect against infection and bad spirits, and later just to emit a pleasant scent.
From the early times we still can admire (in museums) hollow containers made of gold which are called Bulla. The bulla was first made by the Etruscans and later adopted by the Romans. It was worn as a pendant around the arm or neck, sometimes with several together on one chain, and might contain perfume. Children wore also bullae: gold for the offspring of noble families and leather for freedmen's families.
A pomander, also called scent ball or musk ball, was originally a mixture of highly scented spices and perfumes, made into a ball and used in the Middle Ages. Later the term was applied to the perforated globular metal receptacle, often made of gold or silver, opening midway, to contain the ball. Often it was shaped like an apple or a pear that was worn like a pendant, especially during the Renaissance (14th-17th centuries). You still can see it on paintings of that period. Nowadays we know the use of pomanders in our wardrobes and in the bathroom, not around the neck.
Musk is a substance obtained from the male musk deer that has a strong, as pleasant considered scent.
Perfume Jewelry Pendants:
In contrast to the pomander, perfume jewelry pendants are very much in use today. They are available in the form of little boxes, bottles and flacons with or without a small receptacle of glass in it, a little sponge or just some cotton wool. Often they are beautifully decorated and can be worn around the neck on a matching chain.
A good example of it is the jewelry of the Avon Company. Originally it was a perfume company founded in 1886. Since 1970 it started to make their own jewelry which could contain solid perfume.
In North Africa women wear bead necklaces made of scented magic beads.
These beads are made of a mixture called "amberpaste". It is composed from, among other, ambergris (having no relationship whatever with amber), aloeswood, musk, rose petals, cloves, saffron and nutmeg. Ambergris is a waxy substance that is found floating in the Indian Ocean and other tropical waters, believed to be secretion from the stomach of the sperm whale. It has a pleasant scent.
These beads are considered to be an aphrodisiac, and enhanced by magic, being capable of seducing a man. Depending on the country and social economic background of the women different elements are included in the composition of the paste. In Tunis, women claim that their recipe comes from a very old Egyptian formula.
There are bead necklaces made of sandalwood beads. Sandalwood is a wood from Asia which has a pleasant scent, and has been prized in Asia for centuries because of its fragrance. These beads are used in necklaces as well as in Buddhist Mala-prayer strands. Handling the beads with their aromatic scent together with the prayers has a sedative effect.
In India camphor beads are being used for making wedding necklaces. These beads are quite expensive and transient. Camphor is a strongly scented solid oil, obtainable from the camphor laurel of India, China and Japan.
It is been synthetic manufactured too. We encounter it as moth-balls to keep the little moths far away from our wardrobes.
Not only in pulverized form in the beads made of amberpaste, we find the use of cloves in their original natural form as beads. When soaked in water they can easily being perforated and are strung on a cotton thread.
In Algeria, as in other Arab countries, cloves are associated with women, sexuality and marriage, and necklaces of cloves and silver beads are said to have strong aphrodisiac properties.
A Persian Gulf Arab bride is being decorated with a necklace of cloves and other beads. The materials used include Venetian glass beads, coral, mother-of-pearl, -materials from the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf- , cotton tassels and a shirt button for the fastening.
This same use of cloves and the other beads and embellishments we see in necklaces worn by Bedouin women of the Negev desert. Most Bedouin from the Negev and Sinai deserts are originally from the Arabian Peninsula. For trade with tourists the coral and glass beads are in most cases replaced by plastic imitations, the necklaces being equally attractive.