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Why are trade beads dirty?

When you receive your African trade beads, you may sometimes find that they are a bit dirty or dusty. Before you get upset, let's take a few seconds to learn about the reasons as to why they are a bit dirty, and you may actually come to appreciate their condition! :) The top 3 reasons why your trade beads may be a tad bit dirty upon arrival:
  1. The beads are old. Some trade beads, like our Millefiori trade beads, Dogon beads, and Skunk eye beads, can up to 100 years old. They are not called antique / vintage trade beads for no reason! Many of these have bared witness to multiple owners, particularly Venetian trade beads which were created in Venice and traded in Africa. Each handmade bead carries decades of history along with it!
  2. They come from rural areas in Africa. These beads are not mass produced in sparkling clean factories like most other beads are in China and India. They are made in rural villages and towns throughout Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya, outside, in the sun, with no building to protect them from dust winds and harsh weather. This is party of their beauty!
  3. They have traveled long distances. Beads such as our Hebron trade beads have traveled at the very least, 8,000 miles from Sudan to California, but likely much more as most experts suggest they were originally made in Hebron, Palestine.
The dust and antique look of trade beads is a testament to their individual stories and histories. It is one of the reasons why people consider them so special. But to each his own! If you don't like the aesthetic condition of the beads, no need to worry. In our next beading tip, we will provide you with step by step instructions with the best techniques on how to clean your trade beads.