Ask the Bead Man

Posted on September 14, 2015 by Larry Silverman | 9 comments

 A customer writes the following: I came across your fabulous site was wondering if you would entertain a couple of questions for me.  I came across some African Trade Beads (pics attached) and have really no idea what I have.  Would you be so kind as to enlighten me a bit?  Thank you for reading my email and for your consideration.  

The pictures attached are examples of what is called African Amber beads.  To learn more about these beautiful amber toned beads check out the following items in our store:

These beads, made from an early form of plastic (Phenolic resin, to be precise) in Germany in the early 20th century, have an organic quality in that they develop richer colors and small cracks as they age and absorb body oils. The ones featured above are very valuable. In general age and the effects of aging determine the value of African amber.  Some African amber beads are actually copal, which is a natural tree resin that has aged over hundreds of years. The material is very soft and and has an incense fragrance when burned. True amber, the type that comes from the Baltic Sea area (Russia, Poland, Estonia, etc.) is tree resin that has been curing for millions of years, sometimes hundreds of millions of years. See for example




Continue Reading

Posted in African amber beads, amber, baltic, cheddar stacks, copal