Traditionally, heishi necklaces were made by North American Indians of shell beads strung together, then rolled on an abrasive rock until the entire strand was a smooth cylinder of wafer or disk-shaped beads (sometimes with the addition of a fetish pendant, or a few accent beads in other materials). Today, the definition of heishi beads also includes thin flat squares or triangles as well as puffed disks (aka flying saucers) made of gemstones, wood, shell, coral, turquoise and other materials. Thicker heishi shaped beads are sometimes called wheels, and as they become thicker, it can be tough to decide if they should be called "heishi" or "short tube beads". Alternate spellings include hishi and heshe. However you spell it, they are great beads for stacking on earrings, or making short, colorful bar centerpieces for necklaces and bracelets, as well as the longer more traditional strung heishi necklaces.