India has so much exotic jewelry and clothing! I’m trying to decide which beads would be the most desirable and which beads I would buy first if I had the opportunity. India jewelry designs are so diverse and created with so many different types of beads such as glass beads, wood beads, clay beads, horn beads, metal beads, ceramic beads, lac beads and more than I could even dream existed.
The one type of bead, I’d be sure to bring home, would be some of the locally handmade beads. I’m really fascinated with the lac beads, most of which are handmade. Lac beads are one of the rarest, most fragile and most unique beads in the world, made from a resinous substance that is secreted by tiny insects. Oh yes! They’re a bit buggy! The widely known Indian lac insect (extremely small – you need a magnifying glass to see it) is Kerria lac Kerr. These little fellows snuggle up very close on a tree limb and suck the plant sap and secret the lac resin and they continue to eat and grow. This resin, Lac, is hard, tough and brittle but softens with slow heating. You can find more information at my favorite resource Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac. Though a bit buggy, they are beautiful and are available in many colors and styles. It seems that Lac beads are even great for those who tend to have skin allergies and have trouble with metal jewelry as it is a natural substance.
Another desirable Indian bead would be the Rudraksha beads which have been used to make prayer beads for thousands of years. These beads come from the Rudraksha tree and are covered with a blue shell when they are ripe, thus the name blueberry beads. They are valued by the number of divisions they have.
Of course, it would be hard to leave behind the famous black glass beads from Purdilpur, amulets made out of amber beads, the enameled Meenakari beads, and the beautiful silver beads.