African Paper Beads

I absolutely love collecting jewelry when I travel especially handmade bracelets and necklaces. Not only is it a great way to help out the local women who make the jewelry, it is a great souvenir and memory of a new culture.

I have never been to Uganda before however several of my friends have been there and have brought back beautiful Ugandan paper bead jewelry as gifts. I adore them!  The beautiful brightly colored paper beads are made from recycled paper and hand rolled by local Ugandan women. It is a great way for the women to support themselves, many who live below the poverty line.

African Paper Beads

You can imagine my surprise and joy when I was in Tucson at the 60th Annual Gem Show and found an African Village loaded with table after table of paper beads for sale! When we entered the tents, I told my mom “I wonder if they will have any paper beads”. An elderly man laughed hard and said “Beads? They are everywhere!”. And he was indeed right. Table after table of every kind of African bead imaginable was at the Tucson Gem Show for sale at the mere price of $3 a bracelet and $5 a necklace.

Looking over the piles of beautiful African beads, I can only imagine with awe and wonder how much time it took to make all these gorgeous creations, all delicately rolled and strung by hand.

There were also different kinds of African beaded jewelry that were made out of stones, rocks, carvings and other materials. They were equally fascinating and beautiful.

I really liked the red, orange and earth-colored beads as well.

As you can see, there were rows and rows of beads. Any kind of African bead you wanted, you could buy.

The good news is you don’t have to travel to Africa or the Tucson Gem show to buy African beads. There are countless non-profit organizations that sell the beautiful jewelry online and a percentage of the proceeds goes back to help the women who make the jewelry. Here are two organizations that I really like:

Bead for Life: Eradicating Poverty One Bead at a Time

Outreach Uganda

This post was written in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes. To see more entries, click here


    • Thanks Amy! Yes it takes a lot of work to make these gorgeous beads. I am not very crafty and have tried to make simple bracelets for my daughter and have failed miserably!

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    • Thanks Angeline! I know the paper beads are rolled and they coated with some kind of wax or something but I can’t remember for sure. This makes them last and shiny! I love them!

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      • Absolutely! I volunteer with Servants Anonymous Foundation and their fair trade initiative of Global Wonders. The jewelry the women create in Nepal not only is beautiful but brings awareness to the global problem of slavery. Wearing it helps them and helps to educate others.

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  13. Hi, I had two Beads for Life Parties several years ago and it was a great experience. I can attest that the beads are beautiful, you and your guests will have a very hard time choosing from them. But, they are inexpensive soooo you don’t have to limit your choices to just one or two! I have two sets with bracelet and matching necklace. It is wonderful to support this great cause!

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