Bali Beads

Written by Sarah Provost
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Bali beads may be the single most popular category among all the myriad types of beads available. These beads are crafted by artisans in Bali and other areas of Indonesia from sterling silver. (Although, currently, many of these beads are manufactured in India, due to the political unrest in Bali.) What makes them unique is the breathtaking complexity of their designs, formed by carving or by attaching tiny bits of wire or drops of molten silver to create the desired image. No two beads are exactly alike, and each is a miniature work of art.

Bali beads come in a vast array of shapes and sizes. They may be round, square, oval, tubular, or formed into shapes such as hearts, crosses, and animals or flowers. There are also larger focal beads and pendants available, including harmony balls that chime softly as you move and prayer boxes that can hold a slip of paper, a photograph, or a lock of hair.

Care of Bali Beads

The designs are made to stand out by a process of oxidation called antiquing. The bead is oxidized and then polished, so the darker oxidation in the crevasses contrasts with the lighter silver on the crests. For this reason, you should never use tarnish remover on Bali beads, as it will also remove the antiquing.

Because each bead is hand crafted, there will be a lot of variation in size, the details of the design, and the size of the hole. On a personal note, I would like to add that since Indonesia is prey to abuses of craftsmen and even child labor, I recommend that you buy Bali beads only from distributors who are signatories to the Fair Trade Act. This assures that the artisans who make your beads are not being exploited.

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