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What Are Heishi Beads?
Heishi beads are a bead used in jewelry making for centuries. "heishi" means "shell" in the Keresan language of the Native American Pueblo people, specifically the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico. These beads are traditionally made from shells but can also be made from other materials such as crystals, gemstones, and even certain types of wood.
The Fascinating History of Heishi Beads
Heishi beads are believed to be the oldest form of jewelry in New Mexico and possibly North America. They have been made and worn in the Rio Grande region for over 6,000 years. For the Santo Domingo Pueblo and other Native American groups, heishi beads are not just decorative items. They have cultural and spiritual significance and are often used in ceremonial contexts.
Making Heishi Beads Process
The traditional process of making heishi beads is labor-intensive. Shells or stones are first sliced into thin discs. Each disc is drilled in the center, and the beads are strung on a string. They are then ground smooth against a stone, producing consistent beads in size and shape.
Types of Heishi Beads
Shell Heishi Beads: These are the traditional beads made from shells. They come in various colors, each representing the natural hues of the shells they are derived from.
Polymer Clay Heishi Beads: A modern take on the traditional bead, these are made from polymer clay and available in many colors.
Heishi Beads: Made from different types of stones, these beads are perfect for those who love gemstones' natural look and feel.
Metal Heishi Beads: For those who prefer a touch of luxury, metal heishi beads are the perfect choice. They are sturdy shiny, and add a touch of elegance to any piece of jewelry.
Why Choose Heishi Beads?
Heishi beads are not just fun items to work with but also easy to incorporate into various jewelry pieces. Whether you create bracelets, necklaces, or earrings, these beads add a unique touch to your creations. Their varied colors and materials make them a favorite among handmade jewelry designers.
How to Use Heishi Beads
Using Heishi beads is a creative endeavor. They can be strung together to form bracelets or necklaces, incorporated into earrings, or even used in crafts for kids. They can be combined with other beads or used independently for a simple, elegant look.
Caring for Your Heishi Beads
To keep your beads in pristine condition, storing them in organized and sturdy storage kits is essential. Avoid exposing them to harsh chemicals or prolonged sunlight.
Heishi Beads Buying Guide
When shopping for Heishi beads, consider material, size, and color. Also, knowing whether you're getting traditional, handmade beads or modern, machine-made versions is essential. Traditional beads are typically more expensive due to the labor involved in their creation.
What is a heishi bead?A heishi bead is a small, disc-shaped bead traditionally made from shells but now comes in various materials.
Why are they called heishi beads?"heishi" means "shell" in Keresan languages, representing their traditional material.
What material are heishi beads made of?Heishi beads can be made of shells, polymer clay, crystals, stones, or metals.
What are heishi beads used for?They are primarily used in jewelry-making but can also be incorporated into various crafts.
Where can I buy genuine heishi beads?IdasGems.com offers a wide range of genuine heishi beads for all your crafting needs.