Beads have been used to create jewelry for many centuries. Archeologists have found evidence of beads being used for ornamental purposes in the earliest civilizations. In those early days of mankind, various naturally occurring raw materials were cut, chiseled and shaped into tiny globes. These were then used to make jewelry pieces of all types. However, today, a much wider range of materials is employed in bead-making. The most important of these is plastic.
Plastic beads are a recent innovation, as plastic itself was only invented in 1907. People quickly realized that this material had a wide variety of applications, especially in jewelry making. Plastic bead necklaces began to slowly appear in the market, and by the roaring ‘20s, they had become very popular. There were many reasons for this almost instant rise to fame of this modern jewelry type. Plastic necklaces are very cost-effective. The material can be used to make different designs and shapes, including all types of interesting new patterns that had never been seen before. As opposed to clay, wood or even metal beads, plastic beads had a very modern aesthetic; women who wanted to flaunt a modish, modern look hence jumped on this bandwagon with a great deal of enthusiasm. Their popularity has waxed and waned over the years. In the ‘70s, for instance, plastic beaded necklaces were a big part of the hippy, bohemian look. But in the‘40s and ‘50s, they were considered childish rather than stylish. However, their low cost and large variety of designs has ensured that they never really fell completely out of style. In recent years, they have come back into fashion in a big way, as a part of the over-all fashion revival of vintage ‘20s and ‘70s styles.
The versatility and adaptability of plastic is what makes it such an apt material for jewelry making. It can easily be molded into any shape the jewelry maker requires. There are also many different types of plastic that can be used. The chemical composition can vary to make the material translucent, opaque, strong, brittle or malleable; similarly, the color and sheen can also be varied. This is why plastic necklaces get counted as junk or street jewelry. They are available in so many different varieties that women can find one to match each and every one of their ensembles.
Many plastic beaded necklaces are specifically made to resemble certain ‘real’ jewelry types. For instance, plastic can be cut and painted to resemble metal, wood, bone, clay or even precious stones like pearl. Obviously, the aesthetic effect is not entirely true to life, but it is a great substitute for those who cannot afford the originals or do not want to wear them.
However the most popular variety of plastic bead necklaces is the typically summery, bohemian variety in bright and beautiful colors. Smooth beads of exactly the same shape and size are strung together in a chain. These are generally quite long and sometimes reach almost till the waist. Alternatively, beads of varying sizes and colors can be used to create a funky chain. Another accessory that has become quite popular in recent times is the chunky bead necklace. Here, over-sized beads are alternated with ornate pieces of carved metal. This creates a wonderfully bohemian aesthetic that has become immensely popular in recent times.
Yet another popular design is the one where beads are arranged in descending order of size. The biggest ones go in the center (where the pendant would be) and the beads on either side get smaller and smaller, until they reach the clasp.
Styles and Trends
Beaded necklaces are extremely trendy at the moment. They are associated with two of the most fashionable decades of the last century: the ‘20s and the ‘70s. Both of these vintage styles are making a major comeback right now and this has made plastic beaded necklaces more popular than ever before. Women are attracted to them not only because of the style, but also because of their versatility. They can be used to accessorize a wide variety of ensembles, including stylish Indian, western and indo-western looks.
There are two ways to accessorize with plastic necklaces. Women can either make them the highlight of the ensemble, or they can use them subtly to complete a beautiful look. What method is used depends on the outfit in question. For instance, a bright red plastic bead necklace is the perfect addition to a red and white tunic and legging outfit. It will complement the colors of the ensemble, while also adding a vibrancy of its own. On the other hand, a white plastic bead necklace worn with a black saree with white embroidery designs can be a wonderful statement accessory.