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About Antique, Vintage and Retro Beads

Create notably unique handmade jewellery from our vintage and retro beads, including chunky 1960s Lucite plastics, original 1970s wooden beads for macrame and 1980s clay beads, brass charms, sew on stones, cameos etc most of which are sourced globally from the former manufacturing hubs of Germany and former Czechoslovakia.

We have delightful tales of purchasing sample ranges from retired Czech men who formally worked in the bead and jewellery trade. These men often speak little English, have vast knowledge, skill and expertise and like most from their generation store all their forgotten treasures in the house cellar. Other stock has been purchased at auctions and other random contacts.

Stock changes regularly and you will discover new treasures in the collection every time you visit us. They may be here today, and gone tomorrow! First in best dressed!

You can also shop our extraordinary range of vintage beads, charms, stones and cameos online or at the craft shows: Stitches and Craft in Feb and Quilt and Craft in June at ICC Darling Harbour, Sydney.

All About Vintage!
Our vintage stock is:

  • Usually a combination of sample ranges & over productions which have never been sold or used;
  • Circa 1920s to 1980s;
  • A collection of one-of-a-kind pieces;
  • Products include beads, settings, cabochons, buttons & jewellery;
  • Materials include Czech glass & enamel, Swarovski© crystal, Lucite plastic,
  • Are of a high quality & craftsmanship;
  • Will make your designs unlike any others;
  • and supplies are, of course, limited.

 

Sustainable Style

Generally as a society we are becoming more mindful about our choices i.e.

  • conscious of choosing products which are made using artisan traditions and not mass produced,
  • seeking quality over quantity
  • things of beauty which have cultural or personal significance.

And buying vintage ticks all those boxes!

French Jet Glass Stones (circa late 1800s -1920s)

French Jet or crepe stone is black glass or black crystal. (not fossilized wood). Manufactured from the late 1800s in the former Czechoslovakia using hand cutting techniques these beads are flat on one side and cut on the other with 2 holes drilled through them. They are extremely versatile. Mount them on filigree stampings, sew them onto garments and string them to create unique bracelets and chokers. Note: they have either the makers mark on the back or some have decorative etchings which makes them reversible. Like all glass, it will be colder to the touch and heavier than Whitby jet or vulcanite.

HOW TO USE FRENCH JET STONES IN YOUR JEWELLERY DESIGNS?

  • Glue directly onto a rings base or brooch back, use it in scrap booking & altered art
  • Frame them & wear as a pendant, brooch or ring,
  • Incorporate them into an eclectic necklace. A great way to use odd beads & chain,
  • Use them with a seed bead stitched bezel,
  • Set them into polymer clay, for example Fimo

Glass and Plastic Cabochons. (circa 1950s-1960s)

Most of our stocks originate from the Czech Republic, West Germany and Japan. A cabochon is a stone that is cut with a highly polished rounded or convex top with no faceting and a flat or slightly domed base. A cabochon may be cut in any shape, though oval is by far the most common. The term comes from the French caboche, meaning knob or small dome. Cabochons are usually a highly polished, convex shaped, un-faceted gem with a flat back for mounting.

HOW TO USE CABOCHONS:

  • in a setting mount to create a brooch, ring or centerpiece;
  • with a seed bead stitched bezel,
  • wrap with wire or set them into PMC designs.

Cabochons are not beads, and do not have holes!

Lamp Glass Cabochons are made by hand over a glass worker’s burner which  are hand moulded. They have been produced in the Czech Republic since the 18th C in colour combinations imitating natural precious and semi precious stones.

Other cabochons are copies of Limoges images, some are hand painted whilst others are decals on the domed surface. Cameos are avail in glass, porcelain and acrylic plastic.

Limoges

From detailed images of courtship scenes to signs of the zodiac our range of limoges are made in the former Western Germany, old Czecholslovakia and Austria. They are made of a plastic or glass base, with a decal image. There may be minor imperfections due to their age. Decal placement may vary.

These adorable cabochons are super sweet vintage finds!

Lucite Plastic Beads (circa 1960s-early 1980s)

  • Lucite is a material that has both properties of plastic and glass and mirrors the clarity of glass.
  • Lucite is heavier in “feel” compared to traditional plastics and is of the highest quality.
  • Lucite was discovered in 1931 by Du Pont chemists. It was among the first plastics derived from petrochemicals and was sold to jewellery manufacturers after the war.
  • Lucite plastic beads and jewellery were mass produced  in Germany, Italy, Austria, Japan, and Hong Kong post WW2 to the 1980s.

Our chunky Lucite beads are a best seller. The inventory changes regularly and you will discover new items sourced from old dusty basements of former European makers.

Macrame Wooden Beads (1970s)

Made in the former Czechoslovakia these chunky wooden beads have multiple uses with their large holes & vibrant colours.
The beads are stained followed by a clear top coat which was  applied to give the beads a polished finish. Use for jewellery making if you love a chunky style plus other crafting projects including macrame which requires at least a 4mm -12mm hole depending on the cord you use or even use them for a lamp, fan or blind pull.

Indian Clay and Glass Beads (1980s)

Indian glass beads are handmade beads which are manufactured in an age old cottage industry. They are affordable and give a handmade look to your work. Sometimes Indian glass has a dusty material on the surface of beads – this is a ‘kiln release’ agent which can be removed by rinsing your beads in a seive with warm water and drying on a paper towel.
Indian clay terra cotta beads are all hand painted and textured on the surface to create organic beads which is ideal for bohemian style  jewellery designs.

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