Historically African glass beads have been used as a tribal affiliation signs or even currency; each tribe had a unique pattern and shape. They are very vibrant, colorful and authentic but when looking at those work of art beads do you question whether they are authentic or are they just a cheaper replica of the original African beads which are not nearly as numerous as their cheap fake copies?
Modern copies are very common making the original African trade beads very hard to find as they are not nearly as heavy being made with machinery and cheaper plastic materials.
In order not to overpay for a cheap fake copy of the original beads you will have to carefully select a supplier. Most African beads you find online were definitely not manufactured in Africa. Real African trade beads are hard to identify, especially when all you have is a picture. Ask for high resolution photos and reviews. An even finish and accurate pattern might be a sign that a modern cheap factory made a copy. Real African trade beans have uneven patterns and look slightly aged and dusty as a sign of handwork and age. Real collectors can tell a story of every African trade bead they have distinguished.
It is hard to tell whether you have original beads or not until you have thoroughly checked your supplier. You might choose wholesale beads and buy cheaper copies that will not be nearly as good and might turn out into a bitter disappointment. When buying a real glass bead you become an owner of a unique piece that can create timeless jewelry. It will turn you into a proud owner or in case you have a jewelry business original beads will turn you into a well-known and reputable brand with a number of followers. Though the market is filled with cheap replicas most customers do care about the quality and do not wish to waste their money meaning there is always enough customers for a reputable supplier like CzechBeadsExclusive