If you've ever browsed our collection of old Padre Trade Beads here at The Bead Chest, you can't have failed to notice that no matter the color, every string has one thing in common – color variation. Take a look at the zesty Red Padre Beads, and you'll see that the string pictured features beads in a variety of hues from sunset-orange, through to rich cherry red. Those unfamiliar with the fascinating history and heritage behind these old trade beads may think this is because beads have been obtained from several sources, when in fact, each string is a collection of handmade beads, created to complete a set.

How Padre Beads are Made

Old Padre Beads are produced using a method known as winding, whereby a metal or coated wooden rod is dipped into a vat of hot molten glass, then slowly rotated as the glass cools. Traditionally, the molten glass would consist of a cocktail of natural dyes to create new colors outside of the primary spectrum. Copper and iron would be used to produce the stunning cobalt blue and turquoise. It was not unusual for coral and semi-precious stones to be melted down – a proportion of which would then be added to the glass compound during smelting. The transparency of Old Padre Beads was also conditionally influenced, by the ratio of dye to molten glass.

Availability of Padre Trade Beads

Cobalt and indigo Padre Beads are among the rarest on today's market. This is predominantly because iron ore was a lot harder to source than other mineral deposits. Blue Old Padre Beads were used for significant trade exchanges (such as furs and wheat) in 15th Century China and Africa, adding to their collectible value. Despite their rarity, we stock a range of the Blue Old Padre Beads here at The Bead Chest. While you're browsing, why not check out the other popular colors available, including jet black and turquoise blue.