They’ve often been referred to as love beads or hippy beads.
They have also been known as slave beads, thousand flower beads, Dogon beads, skunk beads, and among others, mosaic beads.
But most of us know these beautiful old glass beauties as African Trade Beads, and they’re believed to be up to 250 years old.
This is why this well-travelled and well-worn strand of 78 vintage beads contains minor scratches, pockmarks, and tiny chips.
Ever since the late 1700s, these pretty little things, which were hand-crafted in Venice, have spawned enormous appeal, not only for their beauty but for being used as currency.
In Africa, also known as the plateau continent, the early European and Arab traders used them to trade for a multitude of items including slaves, ivory, gold, fabric, palm oil, and food - right up to the mid-1920s.
They also became widely regarded as a status symbol among villagers and tribal chieftains – which in later years attracted collectors and investors from all over the world to seek them out, realising they appreciate rather than depreciate.
That said, this strand of beads is in pretty good condition, having maintained its vivid colours over the passage of time.
Well-worn and well-used, this collection of colourful antique Venetian glass beads also includes millefiori (thousand flowers) glass beads; together, they are believed to be well over two centuries in age.
Made by using several multicoloured glass rods or canes, known as murrine as some would prefer, the millefiori technique calls for the murrine to be fused by heat and embedded into a matrix.
At this point, the outside looks quite plain, but once cut open exposes a detailed flower pattern – for which their appeal has become renowned.
The beads enjoyed a bit of a revival in the 1960s when many of the young people of the day (often referred to as hippies) started to travel and roam the globe like never before.
Drawn by the sheer beauty and colours of the millefiori beads, many have since found their way into private collections or used in the construction of ethnic-styled jewellery.
The attached photo shows exactly what to expect. Each bead costs $3.33.