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Since antiquity, gemstone beads have been set in jewellery.

When mining for gems, it is common to find a mixture of qualities. While the very best gems are set into rings, pendants and earrings, others that are not to the same exacting standards are often faceted into the shape of a bead, and then drilled by hand to make bracelets and necklaces.

Other types of beads often used in costume jewellery can include glass, plastic, stones, ceramics and wood. Although discoveries in burial sites have shown that beads were used in jewellery thousands of years ago, we are unsure whether this primitive form of jewellery was for personal adornment or simply used as a talisman, to protect the wearer. That said, today with an ever increasing amount of people making their own jewellery at home, there has recently been a significant increase in the quality of gemstone beads. No longer are beads just a bi-product from cutting faceted gems, they now have an entire category of cuts and shapes of their own. From smaller sea beads to side drilled cubes, from flat pear shapes to side drilled twisted hearts, the list goes on and on. Most opaque beaded gemstones are cut by machines in China, whilst the majority of transparent beads are hand cut in India.

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2 Tigers Eye beaded bracelets

by Jessica Lilli.