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Practical Uses for Beads

Beads are used for decoration, of course, but they serve many other functions. Here we shall discuss some of them. We're just getting started here, so keep checking in if this topic interests you.

We begin with a question I have been asked a number of times: "What are Basket Beads." I asked the question myself in early 1999 when I saw "basket beads" listed as a product line in India. I was shown some beads, fairly large, drawn tubes, but no one could tell me why they were called that. Later that year Scott Thompson, who had also been wondering what they were figured it out. Here is his story.

Our second topic is seals. Seals were once widely used for many purposes. They are fascinating little examples of the lapidary's art and every seal has a story to tell. They have been widely studied by art historians, but my 1989 catalogue of our collection was the first to study them from the standpoint of them being beads. Check out the gallery.


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