Real rose petal beads have been made for centuries. The Catholic Church sanctioned the use of rose petal beads in rosaries back in the 16th century. Indeed, the word rosary comes from the Latin rosarium or rose garden.

The craft was practiced by convent sisters,Victorians and even by mission people in early California. It is easy to understand why the beads were so popular for they give out a lovely fragrance especially when worn or handled.

Making rose petal beads at home is fairly easy although time-consuming. It's a great way to make use of roses from your garden. You do need a fair amount. The major steps are harvesting, chopping up the petals - some people use a food processor - and slowly simmering the pulp once or twice a day for several days to prevent mold growing. The pulp is then rolled into beads and dried. Some people use small amounts of a binding compound to help the beads keep their shape. Skewers, nails, needles hat pins and so on are used to create the holes. Note that the process results in black or near black beads.

 Heidi Kneale's method involves making a powder out of the rose pulp first to get smoother beads. She also gives good tips on drilling the holes.

If you are not up to the task, you can always buy handmade beads. Shown above is jewelry made by Shipwreckcreation on Etsy who does the hard work of making these beads. They are sold by the dozen. She also sells ready made rose petal jewelry from her other Etsy store, Justbeadit101 (Update - link no longer works).

What sparked this post was a treasured keepsake my friend and co-instructor, Debbie showed me. She received it from her grandmother back in 1973. It was a Californian made necklace her grandmother bought in the USA in 1925, making it 84 years old.

Debbie originally thought it might be rose petal beads but it couldn't be as it was sold as hand carved (see box). Real rose petal beads would have crumbled if anyone tried to carve it. The green color was another giveaway as rose petal beads are usually black.

After some digging in the internet, I found out the necklace was likely made by one of two companies back in the early 1900's selling carved plaster beads as "California Flower Beads". Debbie's box had a printed paragraph describing the history of real rose petal beads but did not disclose the plaster inspirations. So if you happen to pick up vintage beads at a garage sale that look like these, you'll know what they are.

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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