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Beads used for these one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces come from several countries in Africa as well as Indonesia, and a few focal beads from China. Some are collected on world travels, some from friends on assignment in Ghana and others from local US merchants who work with African communities to help their economy.

Sand Cast Beads

Sand cast beads are also referred to as powdered glass beads and feature glass beads crafted by hand. They are also known as Krobo beads from the Krobo mountain area of production.

These beads were popularly used as currency during trade in West African countries such as Ghana.

These recycled glass beads were made in small cottage industries in Ghana, Africa. The beads were handcrafted by pulverizing old, discarded glass (bottles, windshields, etc) and pouring the powder into crude clay molds. The stem of a local plant is added, this burns away during firing, leaving a hole for stringing. 

These are then fired in clay molds at a relatively low temperature in order to give the beads texture.

necklace example
 Necklace with sand cast blue design oblong beads with
cow bone and wood spacers


The colors of Ghana beads have meaning. For instance, in certain parts of Ghana, white colored beads evoke fertility; blue colored ones are associated with purity; while golden ones are a symbol of wealth.

Bodom beads are yellow with a diamond shape design of a darker color such as blue and were traditionally produced to be worn exclusively by African chiefs. Once you know what the colors of your beads symbolize, wearing them becomes a much more personal experience.
(courtesy of


Clean most African beads with a small amount of Mineral Oil on a clean cloth and rub.

This is not recommended for old, batik dyed or Antique beads as their dirt is well earned and adds to their history.

Cleaning agents such as soap are not advised.
 Krobo glass necklace
There are 3 main types of Krobo glass beads: powder glass, translucent and painted glass beads. This necklace has recycled glass disc spacers
in multi-colors all from Ghana.

African Bead History

The African Bead History of particular Ghanaian beads dates back to ancient times when they were first used as the King’s currency for the exchange of slaves, textiles and alcohol. Later, they became popular in the ancient coming of age rituals for girls. Today, they are mostly tourist attractions.

The modern day woman – both African and non-African, is rediscovering the beauty of these Ghana beads which are growing in variety and popularity. Every stage of the manufacturing process is vital. Molding to painting is done by hand, with attention given to each bead for a perfect finish.

Photos courtesy of Peggy O'Rouke on State Department assignment in Ghana

Glass powder of different colors is obtained using ceramic dyes.  Many beads are hand painted with traditional designs and then strung on raffia.  An example is below.



mudcloth necklace

Batik/ Bone beads are popular in most African countries and are handcrafted from
animal bone and thereafter dyed through the batik method to give them color.
Some examples are below

     Batik bracelet

Necklace with Batik pendant and bracelet with bone spacers

Handmade Recycled Paper Beads were produced by women living in refugee camps in northern Uganda. The beads are made from strips of discarded colored paper and magazine pages that are rolled and then lacquered with a non-toxic varnish. Income from the sale of these beads helps the women support themselves and families as they return to homesteads and slowly rebuild their lives. You can feel good in knowing that by purchasing these jewelry pieces made with these beads that a large portion of the profit goes directly to the source.

Some interesting websites with photos of how the beads are made are below: shows how the beads are created.


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