Komboloi can be made of any bead that can withstand a few bumps when played with. In the last post, The Beads Komboloi Are Made Of, I talked about some of the more common and inexpensive beads that Komboloi are made of. Komboloi can also be made of more precious beads such as semi-precious stones and gems, mastic and the most highly prized, ambers.
Rocks and stones make beautiful beads
Some common rocks and stones used for komboloi beads include lava rock, obsidian and unakite.
Lava rock is cooled volcanic lava. It’s very lightweight and has a texture that is calming and will help you focus. Lava rock is also great for use in aromatherapy. A drop or two of your favourite essential oil on some of the beads and the scent can be enjoyed as you play with the beads.
Unakite is a type of granite that has green epidote and (usually clear) quartz crystals and pink orthoclast feldspar blended in. It is a mottled mix of white to gray granite with green and soft to orange/brown pink. Just feeling the weight and looking at this cool, colourful stone can lift your spirits and make you feel happier.
Obsidian is a deep or greenish black stone made of volcanic glass that forms when lave cools too quickly to form crystals. Snowflake obsidian is when clusters of crystals form during the cooling that have a snowflake-like appearance. Obsidian has been used for many millennia in mainly cutting and piercing tools such as knives and arrow heads and even recently as surgical tools.
Fragile and beautiful minerals
Minerals used for beads can include pearls, howlite and one of my favourites, hematite. Generally speaking, minerals shouldn’t be handled roughly and cared for carefully but they have a lovely feel in the hands.
Pearls can fit in a number of categories but the outer shell is a mineral. Komboloi can be made of fresh or salt water pearls. They have a lovely soft and light feel with an iridescence that draws you in and makes you feel happy. Due to their softness and likelihood of damage, they should be handled gently or kept for the display-only part of your collection.
Howlite is a white, opaque mineral with gray or black veining. It’s a porous stone and is sometimes dyed blue and labeled as turquoise by unscrupulous bead makers. It was discovered in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1868 by the chemist and geologist, Henry How. The stone in its natural state is very calming to feel and look at.
Hematite is an iron oxide mineral that can be reddish to a deep black. It has been popular in jewelry since the Victorian era for good reason. Hematite can be fragile but when polished it takes on an almost metallic shine overlapping a deep gray/black that is very calming and easy to “get lost” in. It’s great for helping focus during meditations and has a cool, light, smooth feel in the hand.
Sparkly and varied crystal beads
Crystals encompass, and are part of, a huge number of stones and almost all of them can make lovely beads. Rose quartz, amethyst, tiger’s eye and jasper are a tiny number of the stones that can make very nice komboloi.
Rose quartz and amethyst are both quartz crystals. Amethyst is a lovely purple crystal and is more prized mainly due to its clarity and the way it sparkles. With heat treatment amethyst can also change colours and become the gem citrine. Though it may not be as valuable, rose quartz is still a lovely stone for beads. When you handle rose quartz and amethyst, you can’t help but feel a little happier.
Tiger’s eye is a type of layered quartz that is gold to reddish brown or red after a gentle heat treatment. Darker stones can also be artificially lightened when treated with nitric acid. The silky, shiny appearance comes from the way the quartz crystals grow and replace other fibres in layers. This replacing and layering creates the chatoyant (the way the light plays with the layers and creates an appearance similar to a cat’s eye) effect. A good bead maker will maximize this effect when they shape it and create a beautiful bead that you will be happy to sit and play with for a long time.
Jasper has a long history and in Greece alone it can be traced as far back as 1800 BC. In Minoan Crete, jasper was carved to make seals. It is a type of chalcedony (which is a type of quartz) that comes in a rainbow of colours including red, orange, yellow, blue, green, brown, white, gray, black, with or without bands and can be multicolored. Allowing your mind to get lost in the beauty of jasper beads can be very calming and stimulating for your imagination.
Beautiful mastics and ancient ambers
Some of the most prized of all the beads used for komboloi include mastic and amber.
Mastic was an attempt at creating a realistic amber and used a mix of Bakelite (a type of plastic) and amber. The finished product was visually nearly identical to pure amber. Unfortunately, the process for making mastic was lost somewhere in the 1940s or 1950s and any surviving beads are now quite valuable. The colours can range from bright yellow/orange or yellow/green through the reds and into deep and dark or soft and light browns.
Amber beads are highly prized and can be a symbol of wealth or the crown of a serious collector’s collection. Amber comes from the fossilized resin of pine trees. As more ancient forests are cut, natural amber is lost and there are fewer trees of sufficient age or with a sufficient quantity of resin out there given the chance to fossilize. Amber can be hard to work with as it crumbles easily and artificial ambers such as mastics and Faturan amber gained popularity as relatively inexpensive lookalikes. Amber variations are nearly limitless. The colours alone run a rainbow of clear yellows, reds, browns, greens and blues and even some matte colours. Between its age and the location that it was formed, amber can also have a wide variety of natural materials embedded in it. When worked and played with, amber has a warmth of feel and sound that is unlike anything else.
For those who want to take their interest in komboloi to the next level or just prefer natural materials, komboloi made of rocks, stones, minerals and crystals can make a comforting companion to your de-stressing efforts. For those who can spend time with mastic and amber komboloi, the prized status of the beads can be easily understood. If you just want something fun and inexpensive, or not committed to the idea of playing with a komboloi, the options on my page Beads Komboloi Are Made Of – Part 1 might be something to explore.
Whatever you choose, whatever works for you, I hope you have the chance to spend some time carefree.
What did you think of this post? Are there any beads you find particularly fascinating? Have you seen, or better yet had the chance to play with, a komboloi with beads like these? Please share your comments below.