Wooden Beads and Their History



Wood is a highly accessible material. This can partially explain why wooden beads are so popular. However, another contributing factor is their versatility and the ease with which the jewelry maker can work with them. They can be painted, burned, embedded with stones, and colored with markers. If impermeable ink is used, they are usually covered with varnish to prevent the color’s running or rubbing off on the wearer’s skin.


Many different types of wood are used to make beads. For example, olive wood is used to make beads that have a beautiful, wavy grain in interesting shades of red. Koa wood fromHawaiiis a premium wood for beads, as is wood from the macadamia nut tree. Beads have been carved from virtually all types of wood.



The bead industry purchases tree branches from the lumber industry. The branches are stripped of their bark. Then, bead sized pieces are cut from the remaining wood. The beads on beadsbarn are either carved by hand or they are tumbled in a specially made tumbler until the desired bead shapes are formed. Then, a hole is drilled through the center to allow for stringing. The beads are sanded and then allowed to sit for several weeks as the natural moisture of the wood evaporates.


Wooden beads can make their wearers feel closer to the natural world. They can be elegant and sophisticated, or casual and fun. Part of their desirability is their great versatility. Regardless of how they are fashioned, wooden beads are always in style.