Beautiful handmade beads are the testimonials of master craftsmen.  Add on centuries of history, with generations of craftsmen passing down their art form, then they are even more special.

Kashmiri beads

Maruti Beads based in Rajasthan, India, recently sent me their gorgeous traditional Kashmiri and lac beads for review and they certainly qualify as special.  Every bead is exquisitely made with many different designs.

Cylindrical bead studded with multicolored tourmaline
Kashmiri beads
They are so lovely I could not bring myself to do more than take photographs of them at this time....and to fondle them from time to time!  The group pictures shown here are mine, the single beads are my favorites from their store.

Kashmiri beads

Kashmiri beads studded with cabochons and rhinestones

It will definitely take a while to come up with designs worthy of these beads!  The round ones though do make great Shamballa bracelets.

Kashmiri and lac beads came about long ago because ordinary people could not afford to wear real gems. The Kashmiri beads, also known as Bollywood beads, are particularly showy with embedded rhinestones, seed beads, mirror chips and silver plated findings.   These are made from a combination of marble powder and synthetic resin on metal cores.

Kashmiri beads
Lac beads are also based on the same combination except that the resin source is natural.  Lac (or sometimes misspelled as lakh) is actually the resinous secretions of a type of tiny scale insect (Kerria lacca) which feed on host trees.  The coated branches are then harvested and the resin processed to remove impurities.
Lac beads

Kerra lacia resinous secretion on branch ( Picture Source)
Another difference between lac and Kashmiri beads is that the former is often multi-colored while the latter is not. Having said that the iridescent Kashmiri beads are truly luscious  :

Lac becomes malleable when heated which helps the process of making the beads as you can see from this photo series of a lac bead maker in Rajasthan.  Lac beads are more delicate than the durable Kashmiri beads and should be handled with care.

The close up photographs I took do not do enough justice to the beads in real life. I quite liked the mix of shiny metal with oxidized metal sometimes on the same bead.  Here and there during my fondling examination, I could see evidence that they are indeed handcrafted as they are not quite perfect.  But there lies their charm.

Maruti Beads have their own artisan studio staffed by a team of master craftsmen.  This enables them to eliminate the middleman and to ensure quality control.

Kashmiri bead with metal chain and flower beads
What impressed me were their flat shipping rates - for example it is only $8 to countries like Canada, USA and UK.   Be sure to check out their Facebook or Twitter sites to get updates on their promotional discounts, contests and so on .


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