Although European-made glass trade beads can be sorted into bead varieties and studied in that manner on the basis of physical attributes, much more information can be obtained about them by means of chemical analysis. Such analyses produce chemical fingerprints that may be compared and grouped. Bead varieties that have matching chemistries were made using the same ingredients that probably came from the same sources, suggesting that they were made in a specific manufacturing center and probably during the same approximate time period. Using this information may help to establish with which European nationals specific indigenous people were dealing and may perhaps even link archaeologically recovered beads to the European beadmaking houses from whence they came.
The Society of Bead Researchers is a non-profit scientific-educational corporation founded in 1981 to foster historical, archaeological, and material cultural research on beads and beadwork of all materials and periods, and to expedite the dissemination of the resultant knowledge. Membership is open to all persons involved in the study of beads, as well as those interested in keeping abreast of current trends in bead research.
Hancock, R. G.V.
"Elemental Analyses of North American Glass Trade Beads."
BEADS: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers
17: 52-57. Available at: