Antique Silver Beads

Beads are often referred to by different names depending on their age. An example of this will be a bead that is over 20 years old is typically called a vintage bead, whereas a bead that is over 100 years old will be known as an antique bead. Therefore, as the name suggests, an antique silver bead would be, quite obviously, made from silver and is over 100 years old.

The vast majority of antique beads are typically made from glass. They were initially used to trade with Native American Indians and Africans. However, it should be said that antique silver beads are known to be far older and have even managed to stand the test of time due to the fact that silver is not corrosive. In fact, silver was used many thousands of centuries ago as has been verified by certain archaeological findings. There were also numerous beads that had been produced from other metals, wood, animal resin or bones and were usually used for decorative purposes, trade or for certain ceremonies.

Once glass was discovered, the manufacture of silver beads reduced quite dramatically. This is mainly because glass was considered to be even more beautiful and silver was known to be extremely expensive. Some of the highest quality silver beads were known to be made by Arabian silversmiths. They are most commonly found in the country that is known today as Bali. Originally silver beads were either made by Native American Indians, and also in India. They have most commonly been associated with nobility and the wealthy. Silver beads are often used to pay dowries, to pay off debts, or to pay ransoms. They were also used as decorations or given as gifts.

The actual process of manufacturing antique silver beads has not changed much over the years, although tools such as files and drills have obviously changed quite extensively. Initially you will need to make a silver cube of the desired size of bead. A hole would then need to be made in the centre by using a sharp object and a mallet, and the edges would also be smoothed out. The process of annealing would allow silver beads to be softened and they will typically need to be clean and submerged into a solution prior to being rinsed and then dried off. Annealing is most often done in a pottery kiln, and the variety of temperatures would allow silver beads to take on their own individual characters.

A major problem with making antique silver beads was being able to determine exactly where the centre position was. There were no tools such as callipers, and this would typically mean that you would never find two silver beads exactly the same. Antique silver beads are known to show the signs of ageing and are prone to wear and tear, even though silver is not known to be corrosive. Therefore, it is vitally important that you take proper care of antique silver beads as any damage will diminish their overall value.

Silver is known to tarnish when it is exposed to the elements, although this is not permanent and can usually be removed by using a cotton cloth. Cotton will always be the best material to clean silver with as it will not cause any scratches. Whenever you are cleaning antique silver beads you should avoid polishing them in a circular motion and typically adopt a forward cleaning movement. It is also fairly important that you clean and polish antique silver beads on a regular basis. Antique silver beads are best stored in an airtight polythene bag or wrapped in tissue paper. This is generally because air and moisture is known to cause damage to silver beads.

Antique silver beads can be used to produce a whole host of different items of jewelry, although they are most commonly found on necklaces and bracelets. With that said, there are numerous pendants, earrings and other quite stunningly beautiful items of jewelry that will encompass antique silver beads. You may be fairly surprised at the relatively low cost of jewelry that contains antique silver beads. You will be able to purchase numerous items for well under $50, whereas a more intricately designed jewelry fashion accessory may retail at well in excess of $1000.

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