The chevron, or "rosetta," bead originated in Venice and became widely popular as a trade bead (used as currency) in Africa for centuries. Chevrons are created by building up several consecutive layers of color, and then grinding down the edges. The grinding exposes various layers of color, typically revealing a star (or "rosetta") pattern. Red, white and blue is the most typical color combination found in old chevrons, and this was the color combination most prevalently traded in West Africa. Even though the technology to make Venetian-style layered-glass chevrons did not exist in most of Africa until recently, the style gained such popularity that African-made beads of clay, bone and other materials were (and still are) sometimes painted or stained with chevron ("V"-shaped) designs.
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Vintage Italian 6-layer Chevron beads. These beads are old, but are direct from Italy. (They have not traveled through Africa). We believe they were student beads, as all of these beads have "issues" -- Many are missing portions of their top blue layer, or are irregular in shape, or have more bubbles between the layers than those made by experts. They vary greatly in size, from 5x19mm to 17x30mm, and are packaged in 10's. New Lower Price! These beads were originally $8 each (when you could pick and choose your individual preferred bead in our Showroom) but now that they're packaged in 10's, with mixed qualities in each bag, they are discounted to $3 per bead ($30 per bag of 10 beads). These are cool historical beads, but today would probably be called "factory seconds".