Investigating the history of African trade beads is a tricky task. While many beads feature tell-tale signs of antiquity, such as pitting and small fractures, these alone are rarely indicative of their true age or origins.

Of course, there are some beads, which to the trained eye, can be dated based on certain aesthetics; the way they're cut, their shape, and even designs can be indicative of the century, or era they were made.

Antique Chevron Trade Beads

Chevron Beads are among the most collectible and instantly recognizable of all Venetian Trade Beads; their bold, striped designs often seeing them likened to watermelons and humbug sweets.

Chevron and Rosetta Beads

Chevrons are also known as “rosetta” beads, owing to the distinctive star-shaped design around the perforation hole. It is this 'rosetta' – or more specifically, the number of layers making up the rosetta – that is often used to date these types of beads.

Earliest Antique Chevron Beads

The earliest known Chevron Beads were produced around the 1400s in Murano, Venice, and typically comprised 7 colored layers. A limited quantity of 8, 9 and 10 layer Chevrons were also manufactured in Venice between the 15th and 16th Century, however, are typically scarcer than their 7-layer counterparts.

The second phase of production in Venice began lasted from the mid 1600s, to the early 18th Century. Venetian Chevron Trade Beads produced at this time typically comprised fewer layers (either 3 or 5), and were shaped using the “a speo” method of torch heating, giving them a far more uniform oval shape. Venetian Chevron production was at its peak during the late 19th Century. Beads from this period typically comprised 4-6 layers of alternate color, and often had facets ground at either end to expose the various layers of the rosetta.

Chevron Layers for Dating Beads

Bead enthusiasts typically count the Chevron layers starting from the first layer encompassing the perforation hole, to the final layer (which is often also the color of the bead's exterior). The layers are generally made up of alternating colors (e.g. white, followed by blue). Seven layer beads from the 17th and 18th Century can sometimes be tricky to date, as early varieties were produced with a transparent green core.

Are you looking for Chevron Beads from a particular era in history? Browse our extensive selection of beautiful, archaic Chevron trade beads here.