What kind of beads has been said to have the same value as diamond?

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“Diamonds are forever. One diamond is passed from generation to generation.” I don’t know how many ladies have been influenced by this advertisement but somewhere in the world, there is a kind of bead that has mesmerized people. It comes in all kinds of bright colours and is round and smooth. It has won the liking of ladies and is seen commonly in the local fashion scenes. 

"Cloth" made of beads

“Cloth” made of beads (Image source: Facebook@crafthub)

In the remote past, natives living in Borneo began to engage in the important work of making beads, to highlight their culture and identity. The beads, rooted in their daily lives for centuries are considered a currency, a symbol of faith and wealth, or a family heirloom.

Native traditional beads jewelry

Native traditional beads jewelry (Image source: crafthub official website)

The value of beads

Can you imagine how valuable the beads are for the people of Borneo? In ancient days, when rough beads were collected, the natives used teeth, bones, shells and stones to polish them into ornaments. Beautiful beads are not only extremely valuable, it is a symbol of high status.

Bead necklace

Bead necklace (Image source: Facebook@crafthub)

In the past, a definite symbol of status worth as much as a buffalo was a lady’s hat made out of bao rawir beads called “peta”. Now, this kind of heavily beaded hat is no longer popular; it has instead become so rare that an antique Peta hat can sell as much as RM30,000.

"Peta" made of Bao Rawir beads

“Peta” made of Bao Rawir beads (Source: Kelabit Wiki)

-Introduction to Sarawak beads-

Sarawak beads

The beads in Sarawak are rich in material, shape, and colors. Most of the beads are made of strong materials such as stone, glass, clay, etc. They come in round, long, curved, triangles and other shapes. The little beads, when matched with brilliant colors is a work of art that exudes endless charm.

Colorful beads

Colorful beads (Image source: Facebook@crafthub)

Lukut sekala is considered the most precious bead among the natives of Sarawak. In the past, only nobles could own it, but now it is regarded as a family heirloom, symbolizing longevity and health to those wearing it. In the unlikely event that anyone is willing to sell it, the estimated price is about RM 16,000 per bead.

For aristocratic bride-to-be, colored lukut sekala beads are more valuable than a diamond ring.

Lukut sekala beads

Lukut sekala beads (Image source: beadcollector@beadwey)

Sarawak glass curved beads

Large handmade painted colored beads often referred to as Borneo hand-painted glass beads. 

Sarawak hand painted ceramic beads

Mainly produced from local family workshops in northern Sarawak.

Sarawak glass beads

Very similar to ordinary colored glass beads, often used as necklace jewelry.

Sarawak Sago Beads

Environmentally friendly beads made of sago residue.

Kabo Beads, Sarawak

Relatively large handmade glass oval beads, often made into Kabo necklaces.

“Kabo" necklace

“Kabo” necklace (Image source: sarawakandicraft)

Sarawak has many indigenous tribes, each with their own distinct characteristics. The beads are used to decorate themselves, as necklaces, headgears, or skirts. Others use it as a bracelet or even a ring. During festivals or large gatherings, the beads can also be made into large ornaments for decorative purposes ̶ the effect is extremely beautiful.

Exquisitely crafted beads

Exquisitely crafted beads (Image source: Facebook@crafthub)

Borneo International Bead Conference 2019

Come join Borneo International Bead Conference this year to see the charm of Borneo beads.  Not only will you see colorful Borneo beads, you might also get the chance to see exquisite beaded textiles and various bead jewelleries. What an eye-opening experience it will be.

Beaded fabric

Beaded fabric (Image source: Facebook@crafthub)

You have the opportunity to join the workshop to make a bead jewellery by yourself as souvenir. It is more exciting to make it together. What are you waiting for?

Make your own bead jewellery

Make your own bead jewellery (Picture source: Sarawak Tourism Bureau official website)

Event Date: October 4th to 6th

Venue: Kuching Riverside Hotel

Press to recognize the following QR code

Can sign up

beads qr

How can you miss such a memorable bead event when you visit Sarawak? If you don’t have the opportunity to make bead jewellery by yourself, you may visit the following places to buy:


Address: Pusat Inkubator Kraf, Perbadanan Kemajuan Kraftangan Malaysia Cawangan Sarawak, Jalan Stadium, Petra Jaya, 

93050 Kuching, Sarawak.

Jenny Tingang

Address: 36 Taman Taipei City, Kota Sentosa, Batu 7, 

93250 Kuching, Sarawak.

Tel: +6082 616232 or H/P: 6013 8214427

 Juliana Lawing Abdullah

Address: 1-1, Blk CF6, Penrissen Complex, Jln Penrissen, 

93677 Kuching, Sarawak. Tel: +6019 8560878

About beads
-Facts you don’t know-

There are many stories about the magical power of beads: 

  1. Bead owners have the power to control nature and assist witch doctors in medicinal role. 
  2. Specific bead necklaces can protect hunters from beasts. 
  3. When harvesting rice, placing beads on the rice sacrifice can increase harvest the following year.

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