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Chinese Leaded Glass Bead Necklace

Several years ago I acquired this silver and blue glass necklace from a woman who told me that her mother had bought it from Gump’s… a famous San Francisco store known for selling orientalia including jade.

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10-11-07 Chinese Leaded Glass Bead Necklace

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The metal beads test silver… the clasp is marked silver with Chinese hallmarks… but what fascinated me about the beads was their clarity and sparkle … totally different from the beads that are usually called ‘Peking Glass’.

So I started to search for more of this bright blue glass… found a pair of earrings marked CHINA SILVER …found a second necklace and and a large pile of beads. I wanted to know what made these beads so bright and clear. The answer came from Peter Francis Jr., the late and great, bead expert. His book; Asia’s Maritime Bead Trade, 300B.C. to the Present is available on Amazon.

“lead is an important clue when considering Chinese beads. It was rarely used in glass made in the West. Lead does several things to glass, including making it more brilliant and easier to cut, just like Swarovski crystal.”

While Francis’ book is a ‘must read’ for anyone who is interested in Chinese beads or beads in general… it is full of other information… as a ‘Westerner’… it was once again interesting to learn that the Chinese had been making glass for thousands of years using techniques that we usually associate with being ‘European or Western’…

In our ‘internet age’ we think of the world as shrinking and time is measured in milliseconds… but it seems that beads have always been part of their own ‘small world’ …

Singapore RE 2.5.2