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fair-trade beads?

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  • fair-trade beads?

    Hi, Does anyone know of any UK suppliers of fair-trade beads, or if there is a need for such a thing. I've come across 'Beadsforlife' paper beads and a website called 'africanfabrics' which sells quite a few, but haven't found anything else.
    Are there are any types of bead which are known to be very bad as far as fair-trade/treatment of the people who make them? I'm happily buying beads from ebay. but don't have any idea where they come from originally.

  • #2
    he he

    we had a debate about this a while ago. I have use "baed for life" a lot and they are lovely. This was what was suggested last time.

    I hope that helps


    • #3
      Thanks Harriet. Actually the place I first saw the Beadsforlife beads was on your website! It seems as though there isn't much demand for fair trade beads, and the ideas of buying British beads or making your own so you know where they come from is good.
      I'm just a bit concerned that I haven't any idea how the beads I'm buying are made. So far i've mostly used mother-of-pearl and seed beads, if anyone knows any more about these I'd be interested...


      • #4
        hi, i'm the person that was asking about them (in the thread listed above) i think there probably is a demand for fair trade beads. i'm hoping some people i know who sell beads will be selling them online soon - i'll post the link if it happens.
        i am also quite concerned to know where items i'm using have come from.
        seems like at the moment you might have to buy british/eu or make them yourself!!


        buy online:


        • #5
          (Hi all, first post here!)

          I just stopped lingering to say that I think there is some concern about where beads come from, though only this thread and the one already mentioned are the only places I've seen interest in fair trade beads.

          Currently I only stock Czech, Austrian and Japanese and all established manufacturers so I've no concern about their sources and the working conditions and I clearly indicate countries of origin. I'm a very new trader and keen for new custom so am, and have been, more than happy to order new products in on request. But if I were asked to supply miracle beads (Chinese) or Indian lampwork I would refuse on ethical grounds even if it meant loss of custom. Some time ago I did consider one Indian supplier but the company's promotional video showed a man lampworking red glass with no ventilation and no breathing apparatus and I chose not to. Also India is, sadly,still known to "employ" child slave labour.

          Supplying ethical gems is a minefield I think that I'm certainly not yet prepared to risk.

          And there is of course the good old UK, European and US lampwork "cottage industries" (which I suppose is an accurate enough term), and Karen Silver, as well as a host of other sources. All of which are good sources and I consider Karen Silver fair trade even if it's not called as such.

          Anyway, sorry to waffle and waffle. I've forgotten what I was going to say now!! But anyway I think, with a little homework, it's very easy to ethically source beads and good luck going that step further to buy fair trade. Oh and at the moment I'm looking to expand the lines I already sell before introducing anything new, but might be able to in the near future.

          Just noticed (before I shut up) that Operation Hand in Hand do say "... we are hoping that soon there will be a distribution point in Germany and in England." and they're a company which seem very worthy of support.

          Good luck!



          • #6
            Thanks for all that. I have just looked at your site tiddlybeads, and might well order from you in the future. It's good to know that matsuno beads are fine, I've just discovered them and love them. Your prices are better than the site I used!!
            I've tried to find out about mother-of-pearl, and can't seem to find any info about how and where it is produced. I have a worry about how it might be extracted / dyed. I might have to find an alternative...


            • #7
              No problem, I did waffle on a bit!

              I don't know much about mother of pearl at all. The biggest concern I had about sourcing gems was discovering not where they were prepared for use, but where they were mined or harvested. I'm sure there are ways to find out but I don't know what they are. Anyway I tried not to say too much about them in case I anger anyone who happens to sell gems by saying something wrong. I think, if you're concerned, your best bet would be to do your own research and make your own mind up from there.

              Anyways... moving on... after saying that I couldn't afford to stock fair trade beads last night I had a thunk and thought about all the problems in the world and I looked a little though the Operation Hand in Hand website and I popped off an email to enquire about their beads. So I don't know if they're the sort of beads you're after so you might not be interested in them but, if it's logistically possible (and it might not be as money is a little tight), you might have influenced a good thing. Anyway I'll see what they say in their reply and I'll update this thread to let you know.


              • #8
                I reckon a good place to start looking for suppliers is The Fair Trade Foundation. Contact them with your queries and see what they can come up with.


                Step-daughter's website selling hand dyed sock yarns

                ~ * ~ * ~ Of all the things I've ever lost, I miss my mind the most! ~ * ~ * ~


                • #9
                  Hand in hand are a great company to deal with. Jelle Postma was very helpful and like you say a great cause.

                  I only had some of the plastic beads which were not strong enough for me to be happy to use in children's jewellery. But they would be fine for adults and each string comes with details of who made it which is nice.




                  • #10
                    Acholi beads are fair trade. More details at
                    I know that sell them too