We’ve just gotten some beautiful new (and limited edition) treasures in from all around the world.  We have a sneak peek below, but you can check out more beautiful images on the Facebook pages for our Dupont Circle and Falls Church locations — or come by and see them in person!



Beaded Realities: Ubuhle and the South African Character

We had the honor of hosting some incredible Ubuhle Beautiful Beads artwork late last year. Thank you, Kristen, for writing this moving and informative post about these amazing artists!

Things Held in Common

My 5-month study abroad in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province awakened in me an undeniable connection to the African diaspora.  It explains my instant and deep connection to the “Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence” exhibit currently featured at the Anacostia Community Museum through January 4, 2015. This powerfully moving collection displays 31 works from a unique South African art form:  a beaded tradition that has a sacred significance in the Xhosa and Zulu cultures. The exhibit not only evokes an emotional response, but it provokes thought as well.  Each bead and the meticulous placement and stitching thereof create vivid imagery of stories, events, individuals, and locations that are specific to the artist, yet remain translatable to the general viewing audience.

Each of the women of the Ubuhle art collective serves as a cultural gatekeeper for her respective community. Through the beaded artwork, these female artists express both the…

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Victorian-era jewelry motifs

In celebration of our Baltimore location’s upcoming Victorian Trunk Show, we are happy to feature guest blogger Cas Webber today.  Cas is the manager of our Baltimore store and has researched Victorian fashion trends in preparation for her show, which runs Jan 30-Feb 15 at our Baltimore location.  Now she is sharing her knowledge with us so we can enjoy the significance of what we get at the trunk show!

Victorian-Era Jewelry Motifs: a brief history

Spanning over the last two thirds of the 19th century, Queen Victoria reigned from 1837-1901 and it was during this time the world witnessed great tragedies, revolutionary inventions, epic romances, and prosperity. The beautiful jewels created during the Victorian Era reflected the vast changing times and can be divided within three classic periods: The Romantic, The Grand, and The Aesthetic.

Design by Dawn Pietrusko

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Photo Gallery: African Trunk Show

This past weekend, our Baltimore and Falls Church locations were honored to host the semi-annual African Trunk Show featuring beautiful, precious, and collectible beads provided by our friend Ebrima.  Whether you came to the event itself, own similar items, or just enjoy the photos, comment with your thoughts!

Although this is a rare and special event, some of the items pictured below are still available.  Check out our website to purchase (or just learn about) African trade beads, gemstones, organic beads, metalwork, and more.

You can keep up with all our great events by liking us on Facebook or signing up for our twice-monthly e-blast.  We hope to see you at a Beadazzled location soon!

All photos by Natalie Thielen Helper.

The Old and the Ancient: vintage Beadazzled & the history of African beads

Did you know that we used to run an ink-and-paper newsletter called “The Beadazzled Beadstringer”?  Its issues span the early 90s and cover topics from collecting to amulet meaning to then-current beading events.

Although these vintage Beadazzled articles recall a different era, they still offer highly relevant stories and information.  For instance, our September 1992 “Out of Africa” issue makes for a great read in light of our upcoming African Trunk Show!

Read on to learn the story of beads and adornment across the African continent — a history that includes long treks across the Sahara, legends of “gold [that] grows in the sand,” and an international bead trade whose legacy continues to shape our world today.

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Ubuhle Beautiful Beads

Today we were honored to host a reception, exhibit, and sale of exquisite beadwork by the South African artists of Ubuhle Beautiful Beads.


Bracelets, necklaces, pins, and bags hand-woven by the artists of Ubuhle Beautiful Beads.

The five artists of Ubuhle Beautiful Beads, who are sustained solely through the sale of their artwork, have taken the skills inherited from their mothers and grandmothers and have created a new art form – the Ndwango. This is the artists’ own word for describing their works and it translates modestly as ‘cloth’ or even ‘rag’. An ndwango is a painting in beads. These artists have employed Zulu and Xhosa beadworking techniques, such as beading directly onto cloth in order to create a canvas with the surface entirely covered in closely strung and intricately woven beaded patterns.


Bev holds up one of the Ubuhle Ndwango pieces to show the back. The thread work only hints at the painstaking effort required to hand-embroider these beaded masterpieces.

From a distance each ndwango seems to be formed from a continuous surface, but as the beads catch the light and are revealed individually, so the viewer becomes aware of the meticulous skill that went into each work and the scale of ambition: a single ndwango can take more than a year to complete. Ubuhle means ‘beauty’ and it describes the shimmering quality of light on glass that appears on viewing an ndwango – a sense of light that for the artists has a spiritual significance.
Bev with Kristen Shannon of the Smithsonian Anacostia community museum, which is currently featuring more Ubuhle artwork

Bev with Kristen Shannon of the Smithsonian Anacostia community museum, which is currently featuring more Ubuhle artwork

Click “more” to view some of the Ubuhle pieces in greater and more beautiful detail!

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Photo Gallery: A World of Good trunk show

Today, our Dupont Circle location hosted the first of three trunk shows featuring exquisite items from A World of Good.  Join us for the next two shows in Baltimore and Falls Church to enjoy these treasures in person!  Jeri Gerard, founder of A World of Good, will be on hand throughout each show to answer all your questions and explain the significance behind each exquisite piece.

You can keep up with events like this on Facebook, our website, or by signing up for our emails!

All photos by Natalie Thielen Helper.

Photo Gallery: Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

These photographs of our trunk show collection include a dazzling array of gemstones in different shapes, sizes, and finishes in lapis, turquoise, and old carnelians along with unusual iridescent heat-treated copper findings and beads– and so much more.

Antique jewelry and beautiful hand-made rugs and other textiles are also pictured. These hand-crafted products come from cottage industries; we are proud to help preserve South Central Asian cultural heritage by marketing this unique Afghan work.

You can keep up with events like this on our website or by signing up for our emails!

All photos by Natalie Thielen Helper.