The Allure of the Vintage Bead

When it comes to vintage beads, I’m often asked two questions:

1. Why are vintage beads so special?

2. Where do you find them?

I’ll answer the first question today, and then answer the second in a future post.

So, why are vintage beads special?

It may sound corny, but they don’t make things like they used to! This is definitely true with beads.

Sure, mass-produced contemporary beads are pretty, but they can’t compete with vintage beads in terms of color, cut, reflective flash, and the sheer artistry of the vintage designs.


There are several reasons for this, but to put it simply – the world has changed so much. It’s no longer cost-effective for beads to be produced with the painstaking care and time-consuming methods of the past. Just ask any lampwork glass artist in today’s world if it’s easy – in the current market – to be paid a truly fair price for the time and imaginative skill that she puts into her work.

As has been the case in the manufacture of many different products over the years, there often comes a time when certain processes of production become too expensive to maintain or are found to be environmentally unfriendly. Early bead makers often used finishes and coating formulas that had to be modified for these reasons. As a result, today’s crystal beads with an aurora borealis finish, for example, simply do not have the full spectrum of color and brilliance of a vintage aurora borealis crystal, and so that adds to the value and desirability of the vintage crystal.


Vintage plastics and Lucite are cherished for the same reasons – the old methods yielded beads that are often superior to the versions created today. Sometimes it’s a minor difference, but often it’s very obvious that the vintage beads were more finely crafted and are more beautiful.

If you haven’t used vintage beads in your designs before, why not consider using some in your next project?


You might just fall in love! 🙂



The Allure of the Vintage Bead — 10 Comments

  1. Your choice of beads for this post was superb! You are right, the vintage beads are beautiful…full of fire. You just don’t get that with todays beads.

  2. So, I just clicked over to your etsy shop and you have some new items listed that are just beautiful.

    If you are reading this post, please visit Crystal’s shop and see the beautiful crystal and lucite she has listed. And I can tell you from experience that you would be quite pleased if you decide to order.

  3. Now those crystals are amazing. There is definitely a difference! The difference could mean (for me) making a watch band to sell for $35 or $10. 🙂 I LOVE your site!!!!!

  4. i never understood vintage beads either…but now i do! they sure are beautiful!!

  5. I do so agree with and understand your point about vintage beads far surpassing modern ones. The cost of labor and materials has made so many items too expensive to produce and so we’re left with cheaply made, inferior items. Those beads you show us are spectacular!! I hope that people who have pieces of vintage jewelry recognize the value of what they have and at least re-use the beads if the original wasn’t to their liking. I cringe to think of the beads that have been tossed by people wanting “modern” jewelry!

  6. I don’t think “might” is the word I would use, it’s definitely “will” hahaha I love beads so much and these are beautiful!

    I totally agree newer, modern beads look so lame compared to vintage ones.

  7. I’ve been looking into beading and really want to learn how to make my own. I’ve seen a lot of variation in quality of beads on the market. As for vintage beads, there is such a special allure with vintage anything. I’ve been hinting to my sweetie that I want a vintage engagement ring. It sounds silly, but I feel like it will bring good luck and possibly possess a little magic.

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