African Amber, High-Graded Strand of Round Round Beads


Regular price $395.00

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  • Vintage African Amber rare round beads 8x8mm to 27x37mm
  • These used to be called Guinea amber in the Triechville Market
  • Full range of colors from light amber to almost black
  • One 28-inch strand, 40 beads total
  • What’s been called “African Amber” or “Copal Amber” in the trade was made from a phenolic thermosetting resin known as PF Resin or Bakelite, patented in 1909 for industrial uses.  By 1910-20 it was being used for imitation amber and costume jewelry in Europe. Soon thereafter Bohemian glass beadmakers catering to the African market introduced the original “African Amber” between the world wars, with shapes and designs specifically created to please their customers who quickly adopted it for its own merits.
  • Aside from big Chevrons, African Amber was by far the most expensive bead in West African markets when I lived there, highly valued by the residents as well as visitors and expats. This amber darkens over time, developing desirable  fine lines caused by oxidation, heat and sunlight.
  • This distinguishes it from the most recent imitation amber that is making its way into, and then out of Africa. These beads have a more uniform yellow color and are made alkyd resins developed in the 1950s and 60s, being made mostly in Asia, although possibly in parts of Africa as well.