African Trade Beads

Trade beads are usually associated with West Africa where they are most often found, but they were originally created in Venice, Bohemia, and Holland. From the end of the fifteenth century, beads were a major component of the currency exchanged along the trade routes. Over the next four centuries, European bead makers were producing a wide variety of designs specially for the African trade: millefiore, chevrons, striped melons, feather, and eye beads. Trade beads are now eagerly collected by bead lovers from all over the world. Local bead traders generally purchase them from local villagers, where they are then sold to buyers and importers in the United States and Europe.

Bracelets
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010

This bracelet is 7 inches long and is made using African trade beads, round faceted serpentine beads and two nuggets of Sleeping Beauty turquoise. Bali sterling silver bead caps, spacers and beads were used. The round box clasp is a Labradorite cabochon set in sterling silver. $135.00

030

This bracelet is 7 ½ inches long and is made using a single striped maroon and white-feathered African trade bead surrounded with faceted garnets and round black onyx beads. Four Bali sterling silver beads have been used as well as Bali bead and end caps. The dramatic oval sterling silver box clasp is a single faceted round garnet ornamented with granulation. $135.00

040

This bracelet is 7 ½ inches long and is made using primarily green modern Kiffa beads (also accented with orange, white, yellow, brown, blue and black), made by the women of Mauritania. Each Kiffa bead is surrounded with Bali sterling silver bead caps and large round discs of faceted peridot. Bali beads and end caps have been used. The square sterling silver box clasp is accented with a square cut faceted peridot ornamented with granulation. $150.00

050

This bracelet is 7 ½ inches long and is made using three yellow African trade beads (blue and white flowered with slight green feathering), interspersed with four blue vintage Japanese beads with hints of lighter blue and silver foil—all surrounded with Bali sterling silver bead caps and four faceted round (octagonal) Czech wedding beads. Four Bali beads were used, as well as spacer beads and end caps. The square round sterling silver box clasp is set with square lapis ornamented with granulation. $150.00

090

This bracelet is 7 inches long and is made using three complimentary colored Venetian African trade beads, two black vintage Japanese molded “mulberry-type” beads and two vintage Japanese black and amethyst mosaic beads set in Bali sterling silver bead caps. Faceted round yellow/gold citrine has been used as well as two Bali beads and end caps. The oblong sterling silver box clasp features a large black onyx cabochon surrounded with granulation. $125.00

0110

This bracelet is 7 3/8ths inches long and features three complimentary colored African trade beads (black with gold, pale green and yellow and white striped with feathered decoration). Bali sterling silver spacers, beads, bead and end caps have been used. There are two large and two small round beads of faceted red tiger-eye and six small turquoise blue plain African trade beads. The small square sterling silver box clasp is set with a square of smooth black onyx embellished with granulation. $135.00

0140

This bracelet is 7 3/8ths inches long and features three complimentary colored rounded rectangular African trade beads in shades of forest green, gold and brick red with accents of pink, white, pale and dark blue. Two small mottled black and green beads of African jade surround the center bead. Two small round beads of dark carnelian are followed with small faceted roundels of serpentine, interspersed with two small round dark carnelian beads to complete the strand. Bali sterling silver bead and end caps have been used. The dramatic oval sterling silver box clasp has been set with an oblong garnet cabochon embellished with fanned granulation. $125.00

0150

This child’s bracelet is 5 7/8ths inches long and features a single rounded oblong brick red, gold and blue flowered bead set off with Bali sterling silver spacer beads, large heishi rounds of yellow citrine and faceted blue sodalite. Two round brick red African trade beads feathered with gold are followed by faceted yellow citrine and blue sodalite. Various Bali sterling silver spacer beads and end caps were used. The square sterling silver box clasp is set with faceted square citrine ornamented with granulation. $60.00

0160

This bracelet is 7 inches long and features five Bali sterling silver beads set with citrine cabochons, which are interspersed with large heishe rounds of yellow citrine and pale green African trade bead disks. Bali sterling silver spacers and end caps were used. The small oblong sterling silver box clasp with a safety catch is set with an oblong of faceted citrine. $150.00

0170

This bracelet is 7 ¼ inches long and features a rounded/rectangular lime green African trade bead accented with blue, white and red. Two sizes of faceted yellow/green jade, blue lapis and round yellow/green jade have been used along with Bali beads, bead caps, spacer beads and end caps. Two small dark cobalt blue African trade beads have also been used. The small round sterling silver box clasp is set with a lapis cabochon. $125.00

0180

This delicate child’s bracelet is 6 inches long and has been made using three complimentary Venetian style mosaic African trade beads in shades of brick red, gold and dark blue with slight accents of white and green. Large and small round beads of dark carnelian are interspersed with Bali.sterling silver spacers and end caps. The square sterling silver box clasp has been set with a single faceted square of citrine embellished with granulation. $60.00

0190

This child’s bracelet is 6 3/8ths inches long. It would also be appropriate for a woman with a slight and delicate frame. It features three African trade beads in complimentary shades of cobalt blue, gold and brick red. Four faceted Czech wedding beads have also been used, as well as round beads of yellow jade and two sizes of round dark carnelian. Bali sterling silver bead caps and spacers have been used. The small round sterling silver box clasp is set with a lapis cabochon. $100.00

0200

This bracelet is 7 inches long and features a rounded/rectangular African trade bead in shades of turquoise, brick red, white and gold. Faceted roundels of citrine and large faceted beads of red tiger-eye surround it. Bali beads, bead caps and end caps have been used as well as two smaller round brick African trade beads spiraled with green and gold. The small square sterling silver box clasp is set with a faceted square of citrine embellished with granulation. $125.00

0210

This bracelet is 7 1/8 inches long and features a single rounded/rectangular African trade bead in shades of leaf green and white with small dabs of gold and brick red. Two sizes of faceted red tiger-eye and dark red carnelian beads have been used as well as four round beads and two small faceted roundels of serpentine. Marcasite sterling silver bead caps in two different styles have been used as well as Bali sterling silver bead caps, spacers and end caps. The medium square shaped sterling silver box clasp has been set with a small square garnet that has been embellished all around with triangular granulation. $!35.00

0240

This bracelet is 7 1/4 inches long and is made using three rare white, pink and turquoise African trade eye beads. Pale blue faceted Amazonite roundels and faceted round cherry quartz beads as well as four Bali beads and bead caps have been used. The round sterling silver box clasp has been set with a white pearl embellished with granulation. $375.00

0250

This bracelet is 7 inches long and features an eight bead set of matching red and white feather African trade beads and two lovely old white heart beads as well as varied Bali sterling silver beads and two small faceted garnets. The clasp is a sterling “hook and eye” clasp concealed within a Bali bead. $475.00

0270

This bracelet is 7 ½ inches long and is made with three lovely old black/gold/and white African trade beads interspersed with faceted citrine and Bali sterling silver beads as well as 8mm faceted black onyx beads surrounded by Bali sterling silver bead caps. Bali sterling silver end caps lead to an oval sterling silver box clasp set with an oval stone of faceted citrine.$475.00 Sold

0280

This bracelet is 7 ½ inches long and is made with five melon shaped Marcasite sterling silver beads and four smaller Marcasite sterling silver barrels interspersed with small faceted black onyx and dark red white heart African trade beads. Bali sterling silver end caps lead to a “screwed egg” Marcasite sterling silver clasp. $450.00

Necklaces
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0060

This 17-inch necklace is made of a double strand: one length of black onyx smooth tube beads alternated with Bali sterling silver tube beads and a strand of carnelian, combining smaller darker faceted carnelian with larger paler faceted carnelian buttons matching four beautiful faceted bicones of ancient carnelian. Suspended from the center of the necklace is a six-sided 1 3/4 inch rectangular piece of ancient carnelian, cracked and blackened with age. It has been finished with Bali sterling silver bead caps and silver balls. An oval sterling silver box clasp finishes the piece, simply embellished with granulation. This striking necklace was designed for someone who appreciates the incalculable distinction of age. $575.00

0090

This 15-inch choker contains only African trade beads and Bali 22K vermeil beads. Eight turquoise glass African trade beads have been combined with nine Venetian African trade beads all 150-200 years of age and containing accents of aventurine, most also containing touches of white and/or turquoise blue. It is finished with a simple oval vermeil box clasp set with a black onyx cabochon embellished with granulation. The age and rarity of these beads make this an unusual collectors item. $1200.00 Sold

0010

This 15-3/4 inch choker features a beautiful 3/4 inch cobalt blue round barrel 150 year old African trade bead touched with hints of black and navy blue and streaked with three bands of aventurine. 22K vermeil beads are followed with beautifully faceted roundels of blue goldstone which sparkle with fire. The necklace is completed with 22k vermeil tube beads and a small 22k filigreed vermeil box clasp with a safety catch. $575.00

00110

This 15-inch choker features an 11/16 inch long round barrel bead of ancient carnelian. It is a lovely mottled warm brick color and contains several fine cracks of age and a small chip. It has been accented with two Bali sterling silver beads and four smaller beads of faceted carnelian. The strand is covered with small buttons of faceted onyx and was finished with Bali sterling silver end caps. Its small round sterling silver box clasp is topped with a cabochon of black onyx. $575.00

00120

This 15-inch choker features a 5/8 inch teal blue molded piece of 18th century German glass. It has been accented with Bali sterling silver bead caps and two small faceted rounds of peridot. The strand has been covered with small faceted buttons of Labradorite, alive with blue/gray and green fire. A small oval sterling silver box clasp with a safety catch is set with an oblong cabochon of peridot. $475.00

00130

This 15-½ inch choker features a ½ inch half round beautiful cobalt blue and white dotted Old Kiffa bead. The strand is covered in round white freshwater seed pearls and faceted roundels of sodalite, which perfectly compliments the blue shade of the bead with its patina of age. The necklace is finished with a half round-filigreed Bali sterling silver box clasp with a safety catch. $575.00

00140

This 14-3/4 choker features a lovely 7/8 inch long cobalt blue and white dotted Old Kiffa bead. The strand is covered in round white freshwater seed pearls and faceted roundels of sodalite. The necklace is finished with a half round filigreed Bali sterling silver box clasp with a safety catch. $675.00 Sold

00180

This 15-3/4 inch necklace features a 7/8 inch long modern Kiffa pendant bead in shades of cherry pink, yellow with flecks of brown, blue and white. The strand is covered with faceted 4mm cherry quartz beads and 6mm square faceted beads of citrine. Bali sterling silver end caps lead to a small round sterling silver box clasp set with a round faceted stone of citrine. $375.00

00470

This 16 ¾ inch necklace features five porcelain beads decorated with yellow, orangey/red and turquoise blue. Large Bali sterling silver spacers separate the center bead from two large turquoise glass African trade beads and small sterling silver flower spacers separate the four smaller turquoise glass African trade beads that end the focus series. Six mm round red coral beads and smaller red coral smooth buttons with slight natural black inclusions complete the strand, which is finished in Bali sterling silver end caps and a Bali sterling silver toggle clasp $75.00

00490

This 17-inch necklace was made using seven African trade beads (a center bead of black, white and red and six beads of black with swirled accents of white), Bali sterling silver beads and bead caps, Marcasite sterling silver bead caps surrounding10mm beads of faceted black onyx and large heishi rounds of red coral as well as smaller 8 mm faceted black onyx and 6 mm beads of red coral. Bali sterling silver end caps complete the strand and lead to its round oblong sterling silver box clasp set with a large black onyx cabochon embellished with granulation. $450.00

00560

This 16-½ inch necklace features a single aged “bumblebee” African trade bead in very good condition, surrounded by large Bali sterling silver flowered spacer beads, heishi rounds of citrine, and 6 mm faceted onyx beads covered with Bali sterling silver bead caps and a single faceted roundel of citrine. The remainder of the strand is covered in 4mm round faceted onyx beads. Dainty Bali end caps complete the strand which is fastened with a small round sterling silver box clasp set with a small round onyx cabochon. $250.00

00570

This 16-3/4 inch necklace features a central Masai “egg bead” African trade bead beautifully aged. It is surrounded by large Marcasite sterling silver end caps. In between small spacer beads of faceted onyx lie six vintage black and red wound millefiore beads and three different types and sizes of Marcasite sterling silver large and small barrel and tube beads. The remainder of the strand is covered in small faceted beads of black onyx leading to Bali sterling silver end caps and a delicate Marcasite sterling silver belled toggle. $525.00

00620

This 17-3/4 inch necklace features a single Masai “egg bead” African trade bead in a bright shade of orange set off by Bali flower petal bead caps and followed by 8mm faceted orange carnelian beads (covered in Bali sterling silver bead caps) surrounding two 12 mm orange, cobalt blue, yellow and black and white striped modern Kiffa beads. The remainder of the strand is covered in mottled blue and green lapis with Bali sterling silver end caps and a small round sterling silver box clasp set with a cabochon of lapis. $325.00

00720

This 17 ½ inch necklace features a center Masai “egg bead” African trade bead in a soft lovely shade of orange/red. It is set off with large Marcasite sterling silver bead caps and eight orange/red brown striped vintage German beads and six round barrel beads of Marcasite sterling silver. The remainder of the strand is covered in brown tiger eye and is finished with Bali sterling silver end caps leading to a small round sterling silver box clasp set with round faceted smoky quartz. $350.00

00780

This 18 3/4ths inch necklace features three African trade beads in shades of black and gold with touches of red. These are separated by large faceted rounds of yellow tiger eye and 10mm faceted beads of black onyx surrounded by Bali sterling silver bead caps. These beads are also separated by large Bali sterling silver flower spacers. Finishing the strand are carved rectangular tube beads of yellow tiger-eye and 6mm faceted rounds of black onyx. Bali sterling silver end caps complete the srand and lead to the medium sized square sterling silver box clasp with granulation set with a square black onyx. $275.00

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