Understanding Fair Trade Beads

The term “Fair Trade” has been attributed to a revolution in the marketing, trade and retail of handmade, organic and creative products. 

This is an approach which strives to improve the working conditions of those in developing countries, develop fairer trading partnerships between organizations and producers, and sustain the economic growth of developing countries by linking producers to new trading avenues.

Links Between Africa and Fair Trade

Tribes-people in the prominent African hot-spots for bead-craft (such as Krobo, Ghana and Kenya) have been producing recycled glass beads for Centuries – well before the Fair Trade movement ever existed.

When the requirement for African trade beads as an exchange currency began to dwindle, the economy built upon this bead-craft also suffered. African people continued to produce glass beads, however they did not enjoy anywhere near the same economic benefits that the 19th Century had realized.

This was in part due to Western civilizations taking advantage of cheap labor and prices, which did little for the struggling economy. The Fair Trade movement has changed all that.

Many in the bead industry are actively improving the direct links between the international market and the artisans themselves, ensuring the basal elements of good working conditions and fair prices for stunning beads are paid straight into the hands of craftspeople, rather than the middle-men who once took a lion's share.

Fair Trade Beads and Recycled Beads

African trade beads and recycled glass beads have enjoyed a considerable revival, thanks to the promotion of environmental awareness and the “Think Green” mentality taking the world by storm. Kiffa Beads and recycled Krobo Beads (such as the King Krobo Beads here at The Bead Chest) are the most eco-friendly materials you can use for jewelry-making, produced entirely from bottles, jars and remnants cast out as waste.

This glass would in most cases end up within landfill sites, and due to it's properties, is not at all bio-degradable. Glass constitutes a large proportion of the waste packaging we actually throw away, therefore people such as the Krobo are actually helping the environment finding alternate use for such materials.

Take a look at our stunningly bright Christmas Beads, yet another product of recycled glass materials. Shouldn't it be appropriate then, that Fair Trade does something to enhance the lives of the very people working to save our planet, and provide us with such stunning creations?

Many countries within Africa – notably Ghana and Ethiopia, are classified as “developing countries” meaning the economies are relatively unstable, and many people still live in poverty, despite their craft. We at The Bead Chest (like many retailers intent on trading fairly) are committed to providing these skilled people with access to international trade in order to improve their regional economies, earn a regular, decent wage and provide a future for themselves and generations to come.

With access to international trading, people such as the Krobo will eventually have a sustained economy and conditions will improve.

Fair Trade Means The Genuine Article

Before you make your next bead purchase, consider this. Do you actually know where those beads are produced? Are they even hand-made? It's very easy to be enticed by cheap prices, yet many people are very much in the dark about why beads can be bought so cheaply.

Places such as China do produce replicas, however there are sadly still many organizations exploiting labor in places such as Ethiopia – hence why some African recycled glass beads are to be found so cheap.

By shopping with ethically-driven retailers such as The Bead Chest, you are guaranteed to receive authentic beads, while continuing to help us strengthen our international trade link with the artisans themselves.

You can show your support for Fair Trade by shopping our abundant collections of Ghana and Kenya Beads directly.