A little bit about beads...

Bead All About It

Beads have played a huge role in human culture for tens of thousands of years. Ancient beads have been found adorning Egyptian mummies and buried in caves in France. Hand-carved Roman glass beads can still be found buried in the sand of Afghanistan. It was previously thought that the oldest beads were around 40,000 years old, but recent findings have indicated that beads may have been around for twice that long.

Mankind has used beads for currency, adornment and prayer. They were used by multiple cultural groups to symbolize marital, social or religious status. They have been used in weaponry, artwork, burials and record-keeping. In the past few centuries, bead-making industries flourished in Africa and North America.

Its more than just a little bead, said Donna Hastings, owner of Bead All About It in Gainesville.

Although Hastings has studied beads and beadwork informally, she is fascinated with all of the types of beads and what they mean.

I just fell in love with beads, she said. The versatility, the history, the creativity.

Bead All About It is a shop located in Thornbrooke Village that has thousands of beads. Anyone can walk in, pick up a tray, and make a necklace, a pair of earings or a bracelet. All of the beads are sorted by color and material. Prices vary from fifteen cents to more than ten dollars.

Nowadays, Hastings said, beads are used primarily as adornment or collectibles. But they are so much more than that.

Beads have been found throughout the world in all different shapes and sizes. Beads have been found made of glass, metal, clay, stone, bone, wood and shells. They have been found on weaponry, in tombs and in artwork.

Because beads are so versatile and have evolved with the rest of society, they are still popular in prayer and adornment today.

I think its just never really stopped, Hastings said. Its just become more and more available to everyone.