Ancient Bead Necklaces

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About DavidEbbinghouse

Sales 18
On Etsy since 2019

Who is David Ebbinghouse?

David Ebbinghouse began collecting beads after a fellow art student at Indiana University gave him a strand of beads that were thought to be red coral. It turned out that the beads were actually glass imitations, and so the need to research beads became evident. Beads and jewelry from traditional cultures were available in the early seventies as many young people were returning from backpacking treks to places like Morocco, Afghanistan, India, and Nepal. Old beads were available to be purchased in the markets inexpensively, but there was not much knowledge about their origins and history. The Peace Corps also provided a way for young people to experience tribal cultures and gain some appreciation for their traditional ornaments. In this way, beads and beaded jewelry contributed to the counter-culture fashions of the time. As more knowledge became available, it seemed that beads were an important but underappreciated aspect of history, religion, culture and economics.

Ebbinghouse began traveling to India in 1978 and researched beads among the Tibetan refugees who had settled in Dharamsala. He published an article about Tibetan dZi beads in Ornament Magazine in 1982. This resulted in his being asked to present lectures to various beads societies as well as to give a presentation at the first International Bead Conference in 1985. He has also contributed to works on beads by other authors, such as Lois Dubin’s book, “History of Beads.” His research was recently included in a book about Himalayan beads published in China.

Knowledge of beads and their historical importance and use has informed the design principles Ebbinghouse utilizes in his creations of contemporary jewelry using the very finest ancient beads. Seeking to restore the beads to their intended use, Ebbinghouse designs necklaces that would not be out of place in their original contexts, but have a classic design sense that makes them very modern. Using ancient metal working techniques such as filigree and granulation, David makes silver beads and clasps to complement the ancient beads. The gold work is done by Michael Winsten (research partner and co-author of the dZi beads article in Ornament), who is a self taught designer and goldsmith who worked out his own techniques for doing very fine filigree and granulation. The necklaces that result from their collaborations are unique works of art.

Shop members

  • David

    Owner, Designer, Maker

  • Michael Winsten

    Goldsmith, Designer

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More information

Last updated on May 11, 2022
Frequently asked questions
What happens if the string breaks on my necklace?

If you provide us with all the undamaged, original components, we will restring the necklace for free, provided you cover the shipping costs. Items must be returned in the original, custom made box (which will insure that the item arrives in perfect condition).