Beads & History

Goodbye and hello!

My friend and assistant Antigone has now moved to live in Greece where she will be close to her family. I will miss her greatly, but I thank her with all my heart for her love and support over the years.

One of my daughters, Emily, has now started working with me and has already impressed me with her flair. She is also doing social media (not my strong point!) as well as learning the skills of jewellery design. I know she will bring her own creativity and skills to the workshop.

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Visiting Oman

I have just returned from a month travelling around the Sultanate of Oman, a country of such wonderful people and full of historical and cultural interest… I enjoyed browsing in souqs and museums and realised that many of the old pieces of silver I have used in my designs are now considered rarities.

I was lucky enough to find more beautiful and rare pieces of jewellery. Prices have, not surprisingly, gone up enormously. Hopefully the Bedouin women selling their jewellery in exchange for gold are getting a fair price for it.

Many of the designs of Omani jewellery are of great antiquity involving ancient techniques used as early as the 3rd millennium BC chasing, engraving, filigree and granulation.

I am very excited with my purchases and I hope you will be too! Some may buy them as collectors items, antiques or want to wear them as unique and beautiful pieces of timeless jewellery.

Silver is also among the most visual and highly valued of Oman’s traditional crafts, dating back to at least the 1st millennium BC. Silver jewellery indicated status and tribal affiliation. As the favoured metal of the Prophet, silver carried a protection from evil.

Old Omani silver was created from melted down Marie Theresa dollars, also known as thalers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The use of coins or ‘umla’ is widespread throughout the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. Issued by an official mint long before the introduction of silver hallmarks, coins were an indication of an established and guaranteed silver content so proved to be of major importance in the nomadic societies of the Middle East, as well as more widely in the world of trade.

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About Oman

Oman stands at the apex of the great “trade winds” stretching from the East African shores to the western side of India. It spreads into Arabia through fabled Yemen and the treks across the Empty Quarter. It is the mouth of the Gulf and the way in and out of Iran and the great trading cities like Isfahan. It reaches up to the Euphrates and from there to Central Asia, Turkey and the Mediterranean.

No wonder it is such an amazing place!!

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Lady Macbeth’s jewellery

The new film of Macbeth has now been released and you may like to know that I made the jewellery worn by Lady Macbeth in the banquet scene! I had almost forgotten about it as I finished it ages ago and then when I saw the ad in the Guardian I was so chuffed as there it was!

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All about beads


Glass bead making was a thriving craft in the famous trading ports of the Eastern Mediterranean where the silica in the sand was very fine. After the Crusaders marauded those areas, many of the families running the factories were driven out to Palestine, into towns like Hebron. They found the salty sands of the Dead sea gave a unique quality for making glass. Hence the creation of the wonderful Hebron beads – for more follow this link: Hebron glass (wikipedia)

You will also see some wonderful antique Ethiopia crosses which I have sourced over the years. These are rare and collectable. On my site, from time to time, you will also encounter some lovely old silver amulets and Koran holders.


Real amber is between 30 – 90 million years old. Copal is the immature resin of a tree, being only a few hundred years old to a several thousand years old. Amber is the fossilised resin from pine trees. Beautiful antique African copal amber beads were used in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. These beads are not as old as true amber beads.They are semi fossilized and are mainly found in Africa, namely Zanzibar Island, Morocco, Kenya, and Mali. However they still carry the mysteries and magical powers of true amber. The peoples of some African countries believe amber to have healing powers due to its warm and glowing colours.

Many beads have been used throughout the world as talismans and status symbols and as religious artifacts in the Buddhist, Christian, Islamic and Jewish cultures. They were also used as barter for trading goods throughout the world. Each bead contains a fascinating tale of the origins of its materials, perhaps its travels, and certainly its potent symbolism.


Kumasi market in Ghana with its vibrant colours, noises and smells is where I find the wonderful handmade glass beads. The famous recycled glass bottle beads lay coiled in their baskets, their glowing colours looking so beautiful in the sunlight – in this video by Ghana Mission Fund, you can see how they are made: Hand making African (Ghana) trade beads

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