Skip to content



Welcome to The Bead Chest's Ultimate Guide to African Beads. We seek to provide you with the most comprehensive database of information on African and ethnic trade beads from across the world.

Much of the data gathered here is dug up from research from some of the top beading historians of our time. With our partners, we've used a variety of sources to bring you informative and eye-opening data into the exciting history of African trade beads.

Please choose a series below to begin learning:

  • The History of Beads
    In this series, we offer a glimpse into the ever-expanding history of African trade beads. Discover how Czech and Venetian trade beads ended up in Africa in the first place!

  • Beads & Culture
    In this series, we discuss the important role that beads play in various African cultures. Whereas in western cultures beads & jewelry primary functions to adorn the body, in many African tribal cultures, these beads carry much deeper meanings.

  • How Beads are Made
    In this series, we explain how many of the exciting trade beads featured in our store are originally made. You will be surprised to learn the bead-making process of many lines, particularly our recycled glass beads and others!

  • Frequently Asked Questions
    Here we answer some of the common questions asked by customers...Learn how to clean your trade beads, more about the special raffia that wraps around most strands, and more.

  • Fun Facts & More
    Enjoy these random facts and short stories that will delight all beaders alike! Do you know how old the oldest beads in the world are? What about the ancient tale surrounding Moroccan love beads? Dig in, and you will surely be surprised..

  • How To
    This growing series offers how-to's on everything from specific jewelry techniques, to the best way to shop for certain types of trade beads.

We hope you enjoy our knowledge base! Please feel free to link to articles from your blogs or websites, but please do not replicate text without first receiving permission.

Should you have any feedback, feel free to contact us. We are always happy to hear from fellow beaders in the beading community!