Gemstone beads are treasured by many. The power and symbolism of color is central to the cultures of many indigenous tribes in Africa. From the speckled whites and grays of Bauxite Beads which mark the acceptance of a newborn into Krobo society, to the deep reddish brown of Carnelian which symbolizes vitality and fertility, it's no wonder that certain stones are considered invaluable among some tribal cultures. But, African Gemstone Beads aren't just prized for their aesthetic beauty and rarity. Tribes such as the Yoruba also place great value upon certain types of gemstones owing to their former use as early currency. Through early trade routes, there was considerable influx of natural Gemstone Beads such as agate, carnelian and turquoise; stones which were often traded with Yoruban and Bedouin chiefs in exchange for furs, art and slaves.
Unsurprisingly, the collectible value of African Gemstone Beads inspired many artisans to produce counterfeit copies from other less precious materials - the Ancient Egyptians being a great example. After exhausting many of their own turquoise mines, they looked to another material with similar properties: jasper. The vast majority of African Turquoise Beads sold today are produced from this mineral. Bauxite, favored for its reddish-brown marbled appearance, was also used throughout the trade era to produce faux Carnelian Beads, and remains a popular element among native jewelry crafters today.