Glossary of Beading Terms

Symbols

Ankh

Ankh

An ancient Egyptian symbol that represents eternal life. It was used by the Egyptians, and was revived by modern-day wearers, to symbolize religious pluralism or the idea that while religions differ on specifics, they share a common belief in the eternal life of the soul.

Birthstone

Birthstone

The practice of assigning stones to each month may trace back to Moses and the twelve tribes of Israel.

Concho

Round or oval metal pieces that are often embossed with western designs. Conchos are popular in creating costume jewelry with a western motif, as well as hat and belt decorations.

Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher

An object originating with the Ojibwe people (American Indian) and now seen as a general “Native American” object. Made of leather strips and beads, the dream catcher is a circular web that is hung above someone’s bed to ward off, or “catch” bad dreams. The technique has been adapted and incorporated into jewelry. photo credit

Mala beads

Traditionally strung on a necklace and used for meditation or prayer, mala beads are used to count meditations (or prayers) in a mantra-like, rhythmic fashion. They can be made of many materials, including rosewood, sandalwood, ebony, crystal and more. They often have a specific number of beads attached that represents a particular meaning for the user. Compare to rosary.

Rosary

Rosary

String of beads with a cross attached used by Catholics to count prayers. Designs vary, but often they are made specifically with certain number of small beads between larger beads to remind the person of the order of the prayers. It is used by moving one bead through your hand each time you complete one prayer, such as a Hail Mary. When you have gone around the whole necklace you are complete. Compare with mala beads.

Zodiac

Zodiac

A system of symbols which correspond to constellations and the date of birth within the year. There are twelve signs of the zodiac, including Virgo, Leo, and Pisces. Many bead stores carry charms of each zodiac symbol which can be added to necklaces or bracelets along with birthstones for personalized astrological jewelry.