Updated: Apr 29
When you Google Tibetan Beads you will get results that include Dzi Beads, Mala Prayer Beads, Silver Cap Beads, beads from low cost craft and beads stores, and these metal alloy charm type beads and findings - but are these all authentic Tibetan Beads?
Tibetan beads are deeply imbedded in Tibetan religious culture. Tibetan beads usually have a decorative pattern silver cap that is referred to as a repousse cap, meaning carved. However, most of these imprints are made by stamping techniques. The patterns are of animals, lotus flower and flora prints, conch shells and other auspicious symbols. These symbols are religious symbols that have deep meaning within the Tibetan culture. So needless to say, bunny rabbit charms, fairy charms and ballerina charms, etc. that are sold by some of the cheap bead vendors have nothing to do with the Tibetan Buddhist Culture. So this is the first answer to one of the questions above, are metal alloy charm type beads and findings Tibetan Beads? No. They are not. They are made in China. I am disappointed that Google returns these beads in a Tibetan Beads search but it's how the websites are set up so, buyer beware!
So, are those cute little coral and turquoise looking beads and pendants in the low cost craft and bead stores Tibetan? No. They are not, and the coral and turquoise are usually plastic. This is a special pet peeve of mine because it's a total rip off of the Tibetan culture and it's certainly not helping the economy of this poor culture. A typical Nepalese or Tibetan person makes 150 dollars, yes dollars, a year. Tibetan bead knock-offs are taking money from the artisans who make the authentic beads.
Authentic Tibetan Beads come mostly from Nepal. Just as a side note, when I say Tibetan Beads, it include beads from the Himalayan regions including Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. (See Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan Himalayan regions). So why include these other countries? Tibetan Refugees left Tibet due to China persecution of Tibetans and settled in Nepal and other Himalayan region including northern India. To see authentic Tibetan Beads, visit my website www.katestreasure.com