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Natural Seed Cluster Artisan Jewelry

Jewelry has been part of human history for nearly 80,000 years. The early beads were shell, bone, claw and seeds. Natural seeds make lovely organic jewelry such as this
gorgeous black beaded necklace entitled Black Marrakesh. It was made by an unknown artisan from South America.

A cluster weaving technique with black string was used to group together chumbimba, a type of seed found in the Caribbean region.

The big brown pendant is made of another seed called chongolo or congolo, which is heart shaped. The English name for this seed is Sea Heart because the seeds travel long distances and often washes up on beaches. That's why such seeds are also called sea beans. These large seeds come from a tropical vine that has huge bean pods - some 6ft long! These are apparently the world's longest bead pods.

Sea hearts are also called favas de Colom or Columbus bean by the Portuguese in the Azores (middle of North Atlantic Ocean) because they were reputed to be Christopher Columbus' inspiration for exploration.

They were once used by English sailors as good luck charms. In northern Europe, just the seed coats were used, hinged together to form woody looking lockets. They look fabulous oiled or lacquered.

There is a huge variety of rain forest seeds. The Seedjewelry. org site has a range of seed pictures which show their potential for jewelry making. The pictures below are two of my favorites. The left picture shows red Chocos Cariados, also known as Yinyan. The right shows black and white dalmatas - no prizes for guessing the origin of their names! The site also has a list of cooperatives and other organisations selling traditional South American Seed Jewelry.

Wayne's Word Volume 9 (Number 1) Spring 2000

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 


  1. Very interesting. There must be some place where one can get the seeds to make their own jewelry, don't you think? Might be a very cool "bead" to add to anyone's collection!

  2. I tried looking for a supplier on the internet but drew a blank. I suspect these beans are collected by artisans themselves. People who like beachcombing can also chance upon sea beans.

  3. Thanks for the interesting information. I got to thinking, could we use dandelion seeds, maple tree seeds? Now that would be great. Then I remembered that when I was about 10, I used to collect horse chestnuts and using my Dad's hand held drill, make a hole in them and string them for a necklace. I really wouldn't suggest using them but they do have an interesting design on them. Unfortunately, I have no supply for that anymore. Bev

  4. I love that necklace that is featured! I've never had the patience for seed beads but I do love the work that comes out of working with them.


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