New book: Beads from Tucson

Sooner or later, every bead collector, jewelry maker or rock enthousiast will hear about Tucson. Each year, the world meets in Tucson for beads, stones and jewelry at an amazing set of events: The Tucson Gem Shows. Over 40 shows are set up late january/early february and they are all different. You can visit a fancy show with high end jewelry and diamonds, a parking lot filled with stalls selling huge fossils and rocks in barrels and an African village, all in the same day.

When I visited the show early 2012, I wanted to learn more about not only the shows, but also the people that make up the Tucson experience. What does it mean to sell and buy at this show? How has it changed over the years? What is good advice for first time visitors? All of this and more can be found in my new book: Beads from Tucson. It is available in print from the publisher Blurb.

Order your book here

I have learned so much from people willing to share their experiences with the Tucson shows and beads in general, that I want the information in this book to be available to as many people as possible. That is why the book is also available for downloading (in a compressed image format) for free. Please note, downloading may take a while as it is a large file size.
Edit: I have also added the full pdf version, which is 33 mb, and has good quality images.

You can download Beads from Tucson here in compressed pdf format (12 mb)

You can download Beads from Tucson here in large pdf format (33 mb)
Please comment, share the book, and let me know what your Tucson experiences are!

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Dutch Finds

Last year I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a batch of beads that were found in the ground in the Netherlands. An amateur archeologist had found these on his  digging trips with a metal detector. Where he would find something metal, like coins, sometimes he would also find some beads. Most came from a dig in the North of Holland, not far form Amsterdam. This batch shows a great variety of beads made in the Netherlands, but also Bohemia and other European places. It shows you how beads get around, even before they got traded on Ebay.

Dutch finds

Most typical are the large blue beads. They are wound glass, and are often referred to as Dutch Dogon beads. Dutch, because theye were made in the Netherlands, Dogon, because this is the name of the people from Mali who really fancied these beads. However, as is often the case with antique beads and their stories, It is very possible that these beads were not made in the Netherlands at all, and never got to the Dogon people either.  These wound beads were made both in the Netherlands and in Germany, and confusion can easily come from the name Dutch-Deutsch. Most likely, they are around three hundred years old.


A fascinating story related to these beads comes from the same area as where these were found. Originally some people in Dutch villages would make a mosaic in their garden with these beads, instead of flowers. They would use blue, white, brown and black big wound beads.This was a practice in formal gardens in the ‘Zaanstreek’ in the 17th/18th century. This is the time that the value of these beads decreased greatly, due to less interest from the overseas trade. Pretty much all of these gardens have now disappeared. One example can still be seen in ‘Broek in Waterland’. It has been restored in 1950 with 2000 beads.

How my house turned into a bead museum

Anyone who visits my house for the first time cannot ignore the abundance of beads. In the wall to wall book cases, hanging in strands on the wall, in my side table, and in small and big boxes and containers everywhere.  Five years ago, I did not have any beads, work with beads, let alone collected beads. What on earth happened?

Five years ago I was on holiday on the wonderful island of Lesvos, Greece. The pebbles on the beach were very pretty and I kept picking up the most smooth ones. Back home I decided to see how I could make jewelry with them. It turned out to be the start of a passion for jewelrymaking. I started looking for new techniques, complementing beads and started a professional course in goldsmithing.

Because semiprecious stone beads and freshwater pearls were difficult and expensive to buy in the Netherlands, I started looking into Chinese wholesalers. In order to support this growing bead buying habit, I started selling beads online. My real interest in collectible beads started when I travelled along the Silk Road in 2007. I travelled over land from Syria to Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekis

tan, Kyrgistan to Beijing. An amazing three month trip, with an abundance of wonderful beads. Prayer beads, ancient agate beads, lots of fake ancient glass beads and Islamic period beads. I bought what I liked and was reasonably priced, but had no clue what I was actually buying. After I returned, I started looking into my new treasure of beads. I found the BeadCollectors Network online and they helped me figure out what I had bought. It was the start of my love for collectible beads.  Since then I started making jewelry with antique beads, started building my collecting and developed a special interest in Venetian millefiori beads.

The story of beads, is the story of people, of travel and of culture. Beads may be the objects that are desired by more people than any other objects, and travel more than any other objects. Collecting beads is collecting stories. And those stories, I’d like to share with you on this blog.