Bali Beads....What Are They?
By Charles Hopkins
Published 09/20/2007 | Shopping
What? You have never heard of Bali Beads before? Well, after you have read this article, you will be a Bali Bead expert.
Let's start with where these beads are made.
You get two guesses and the first one doesn't count.
Obviously, Bali Beads are made in Bali, which lies between the
islands of Java and Lombok and is one of the 17 thousand islands that
make up the Indonesian Archipelago.
Bali Beads are a large part of the Bali people's beliefs,
traditions and history. As the island has over recent years become a
popular tourist resort, the demand and market for Bali Beads has
increased and has therefore become much more worldwide than previously.
The metal smiths of Bali have been making beads for many hundreds
of years and some readers may be surprised to know that the market in
silver beads started as recently as the 1970's geared to the growing
tourist market. Traditionally the Balinese people would wear similar
style beads but in high-grade gold.
For centuries, Balinese artists have perfected their skills.
Communities specialize in specific artistic traditions that are passed
down from generation to generation. As a result, Bali silversmiths
display superb technique and immense patience. Each bead is carefully
made with exquisite detail. Every silver dot is individually placed,
every surface patterned by hand. Each bead is a work of art. No two is
Bali beads can be used to create beautifully crafted beaded
jewelry. The beads are often used to make bracelets, necklaces,
earrings or piercing decorations.
The beads range in size and shape from small round beads to large
cones and other shaped beads. A very effective pair of earrings can
simply be made from a couple of silver Bali Beads matched with a lovely
A true Bali Bead will be made of silver but fine silver is too soft
for general use, so for jewelry making purposes about 7.5% of copper is
mixed with 92.5% pure silver. This is called sterling silver.
The purpose of mixing the metal is to get the hardness necessary
yet still soft enough to create items into the shapes and sizes wanted.
Then there is Cast Bali Beads. A much quicker process, less labor
intensive than the hand crafted beads. The use of hi-tech casting
equipment produces a high quality product with quick production times.
There are also imitations. These are called Bali "style" beads,
which may be a base metal or even plastic that has been plated. These
are fine since you are aware of what you are buying and they are priced
So the old axiom is still in affect let the buyer beware. Unless
you are making a quick trip to Bali, you will be typically buying these
beads by mail order or over the Internet. It would be in your best
interest to know the supplier and if they have a good reputation. If
you are buying via Ebay, does the sellers have good feedback or are
there any suggestions or concerns about the quality of their goods?
These are all concerns we must have in buying anything over the
Internet but you now know all the right questions to ask and you should
be adorning your body with beautiful Bali Beads in the very near future.