Glass Beads Jewelry
Sparkle and shine in the colors of the rainbow, in subtle hues or hand painted, glass beads have been an adornment since ancient times and still continue to be fashionable. Be it the fashion ramp or at the workplace, glass jewelry creates a distinctive look. Glass beads in a long strand or as a single captivating piece, you can wear it as desired. The classy black and white beaded necklace, a black glass stone studded pair of earrings or a riveting hand painted pendant; glass beads create a simple yet dramatic appearance.
History & Origin of Glass Beads
Beads are small decorative items that are usually pierced and threaded, strung together with a flexible wire. The size and shape of glass beads may vary, ranging from about one millimeter to over one centimeter in diameter.
There is a dispute as to the origins of glass, though the earliest would be the natural glass known as obsidian that is a natural byproduct of volcanic eruptions and was prized for its sharp edges, practicality and shiny colors in orange, black, gray or green. If the history of glass is to be traced, it shows that it was created by accident during the making of glazed ceramic beads or as a clear byproduct of the metal smelting process. The date is around the 3500 BC, in Mesopotamia, where glass was used as a substitute for gems and was used to design fashion jewelry. Glass is made when soda ash, sand and lime are heated to a certain temperature (750C to 1000C), and then quickly cooled to form a hardened state of glass ingots. As the techniques advanced, it was possible to apply glass to a variety of purposes. The Phoenician and Egyptian who were renowned in this art became the pioneers and their methods spread to parts like Rome, Greece, Bohemia, ancient China, India and Japan.
A whole range of glass objects has been found from the Anglo-Saxon period consisting of vessels, windows and beads that were used in jewelry. Besides its use as adornment, glass beads were used for prayer, as anti-tension devices, as currency, and for gaming.
The Egyptians are applauded for crafting colorful and exquisite designs which they combined with precious and semi-precious gemstones to create beautiful jewelry. They also linked glass beads with spirituality and accorded different color beads to symbolize different aspects like associating it with people’s state of mind, an individual’s position in society or even a representation as idol they worshiped.
The use of metallic oxides, to add pigment or color to glass makes it more interesting. This could be affected by the presence or absence of oxygen in the furnace. The pigments had to be stable in order to stand the high heat levels. Cobalt is used to get the deep azure blue, copper and/or iron for turquoise blue, antimony and lead to yellow, oxides of copper for orange and red and manganese salts to achieve the violet color. Black glass could be made from a combination of copper, manganese and ferric iron and, the milky white color glass is made by fusing tin and/or lead oxide.
During the first century BC glass blowing was discovered in the Syro-Judean coast transforming the industry. Glass started being mass produced as it became more inexpensive than pottery. Glass became fashionable as cut glass was advertised for the first time in 1786 and gained popularity thereafter.
A variety of surface coatings are available today, to enhance the appearance of glass and crystal beads such as vitrail, moonlight, dorado, star shine, heliotrophe and Aurora Borealis that diffuses light into a rainbow.
Glass bead jewelry is available with prices starting from Rs 300 to Rs 5000 and above. Branded and hand crafted jewelry may have semi- precious stones and therefore cost more. Glass bead jewelry can be procured from boutiques and online stores.
Types of Glass Beads
The variety of glass beads that are available today is mind-boggling. The market for costume jewelry is massive and some of the popular varieties include India glass beads, hand-blown glass beads, and Czech glass beads. India glass beads are round or cylindrical in shape and are known for their high quality, in which colors swirl together and create fascinating colors. Hand-blown glass beads are more expensive and can be made to order in any shape as desired by the client. Czech beads are flexible in shape and therefore can be ground smooth to make a coin or pentagonal shapes; or cut to resemble multifaceted crystal beads.
They are called by different names such as Pony glass beads, white heart beads, glass mix beads, plain glass beads and frosted glass beads.
Present Day Scenario
There is a trend in jewelry that has seen a tremendous shift, from traditional gold and diamonds to most fashionable styles of platinum, silver, and beads. Ongoing trends in the jewelry industry have witnessed an emergence of chic yet affordable glass bead jewelry. What makes glass bead jewelry superior is that they are available in various colors, and therefore it can be matched with almost all outfits. This makes it a big hit among the youth. The price being right, a teenager can have a good collection of glass jewelry viz-à-viz gold or precious jewelry which in comparison is much more expensive. Glass bead jewelry can also be worn as an accessory with ethnic and western outfits.
Seed beads are short pieces of chopped glass cane that are heated until they form smooth shapes, usually round. The commonly available ones are Chinese, Czech and Japanese. The Chinese beads are cheap and irregular, the Czech of moderate quality and the Japanese beads are of a superior one. These beads are also known as ‘Rocailles’. Other related beads from the same family are Delica beads, square beads, triangle beads, bugle beads and hex beads.
Foil glass beads are shiny and are made by spinning glass around a tiny piece of silver or gold colored foil. They are made in different shapes, like dolphins, flowers, hearts and fish to name a few. The other varieties of glass beads include furnace beads, faceted glass beads and more.
How to Wear Glass Bead Jewellery?
Glass beads jewelry compliments a wide range of attires. Wearing a classy black and white necklace of glass beads, where the size of the beads tapers from a small size, gets larger and has one central bead that is the largest. This kind of necklace is very attractive with a saree or a western outfit. Glass in combination with semi-precious stones can be worn for festive or celebratory events.
Glass beads are found in a variety of shapes and sizes and are worn in the form of charms, pendants, necklaces, bracelets, hairpins, brooches, hair bands, and also used as embellishments on bags.
Jewelry made with glass beads is suitable to all skin types. The presence of nickel may cause rashes to sensitive skin.
Taking care of glass beads is a simple process. All that is required is to wipe it with a damp cloth and mild dish soap. This removes the dust and dirt from the surface. Immersing the jewelry in cleaning solutions can damage the thread or cable holding the beads. If the beads are extremely dirty, then they can be removed from the thread or cable. After cleansing, restrung them. Commercial cleaners should be avoided as they may remove the luster or shining coating on the glass beads. Preserving glass beaded jewelry is best done by keeping the jewelry piece in a separate case in order to avoid any scratch from other metals stored along with it. In case the glass jewelry has semi-precious or precious stones it should be stored away from sunlight in a cool and dry place.
Glass beads are versatile with a sparkle and shine that make your treasure box more unique and help you make a statement!