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Bead Identification Certificate 6-00

12 September 2000 - update

I got a full cash refund on the beads. The shop owner seemed genuinely surprised --
though I couldn't tell if this was because he didn't know the beads were worthless or he didn't think I would check them out.

He read your certificate twice, thoroughly, before giving me the cash. I left him a copy. I'd love to know where he got the beads but I didn't ask.

Thanks again, so much, for your advice and assistance.

10 August 2000

Background: We are new to beads, but do love them. We saw these in a shop priced at $250. The dealer told us they were trade beads made in Europe in the 1800s. We bargained hard for them and thought we were lucky to get them for only $150.

When we got home we looked in your book, Beads of the World and thought that they might be even older than the 1900s. Then we showed them to another dealer who told us that they were made in India and were no more than five years old.

Help! What are they?


A strand of chevron beads.



To be honest, I knew they were Indian right away. I nonetheless examined a number of them by looking at the ends under a magnifying glass. The canes from which the beads were cut were not molded, as Venetian canes are, but built up while hot by the "hot strip" method, as used in the village of Purdalpur, India.

A waster of a mosaic cane I picked up in Purdalpur.
Notice that the "petals" of yellow and black were built up individually, not formed in a mold. They are not continuous, but separate blocks of colors.

Chevrons are made in the same village in a like matter, only there would be a hole down the center.

    A European, probably Venetian, chevron bead. Notice that the white and red "teeth" are continuous and were made by layering each color and molding them into a "saw tooth" pattern.

    This was done in two operations because the inner red and white layer is oriented differently (was twisted slightly differently) than the outer. Outside the last white layer canes of blue and other colors were laid down and the whole cased (coated) with clear glass.

For more on non-standard chevrons, see this gallery.


Many colors on these beads fluoresced, especially under a short-wave UV lamp. They included white, greens, blues and reds. This is typical of modern glasses.

In ancient or older glasses one might have white fluorescing due to the presence of tin.
The other colors would rarely fluoresce. Most telling is the translucent (ruby) red, which fluoresced bright orange due to the use of selenium, not even experimentally put in glass until 1891. Selenium is expensive and ruby glass the most costly glass in India.
But ruby glass is widely popular, especially for bangles.

Further Observations:

The beads had been purposely dirtied to make them look old.


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