Buying beads in China

May 14th, 2006, 06:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 34
Buying beads in China

I've recently gotten into "beading." Many of the beads I've bought, and most of the bead jewelry for sale, seem to have been made in China. Do you know if and where one can buy such things there? The biggest cities I'll be in are Beijing, Shanghai, Xian.
mistyal is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 08:41 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 218
I'm not sure what type of beads you like, but I recommend Pearl City in Shanghai on Nanjing Rd. There are several floors of jewelry shops and they have a lot more than just pearls. I usually pick the color and type of beads/stones I like and explain or sketch the style I want. Then they make it for me at a fraction of the cost I'd pay in the US. On my last trip, I bought several three-strand necklaces with freshwater pearls, opaque round 8mm stones and square-cut 1" stones for US$15 that would probably cost at least $100 in the US.

I have not seen many bead shops in Beijing or Shanghai (haven't been to Xian) but I would also like to find cloisoinne or enamel-type beads or charms, if anyone knows where to get those!!
Lia is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 10:26 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Beads abound in Beijing at the Hongqiao Market (aka the Pearl Market). Most are semi-precious stones like turquoise, coral, and other stones I don't know the names of - and there are probably a lot of fakes. But, they are very pretty, exotic and CHEAP, so as long as you don't care if they're real, and appreciate them simply as pretty beads, they are worth it. The second floor of Hongqiao has the best selection of stalls that sell unstrung beads. The third floor has jewelry that has already been strung into bracelets or necklaces. Another good place to shop for beads is the Dirt Market (aka Panjiayuan), though this is only open on the weekends. Get there early for the best selection.
petitepois is offline  
May 25th, 2006, 05:50 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 142
I was making napkin rings out of swarvoski-type crystals and silver (colored) flower-like spacers. I bought them finished for 6RMB/US 75 cents each at “Lina’s Shop” #3046 in Shanghai’s Yu Garden area at 288 FouYou Road, 3rd floor. That whole floor sells strands of beads and fresh water pearls too. Scratch pearls with scissors to prove they're real. Necklaces where they re-string polished shells and add a clasp are 8-10rmb each so the strand must be a little less than that. I bought a REALLY nice necklace of oval-shaped fresh water pearls for 30RMB. Little fabric drawstring bags (lined) come with each item for free. I purchased 15 bags alone for 10 rmb - which was probably too expensive.

I then found a supply market around the corner where I paid 8rmb for a strand of 30 10mm crystal beads + 85rmb for 1000 silver spacers which ended up working out to US 46 cents per napkin ring. I was focused on buying exactly what I wanted so I don’t know what other types of beads they have. I lost the address so here are directions: Leave 288 FouYou road and cross the road to the Shanghai Classical Hotel. Walk down FouYou past Starbucks on your right then cross FouYou to what looks like an alley. Enter the 1st or 2nd door on your right. There’s lots of random stalls in there. I go to the 2nd floor for those crystal beads. There are 2 qualities so be sure you ask for Best Quality and have them hold it next to the poorer quality. I've also scratched them on glass to verify they weren't plastic. On the 3rd floor or so behind the escalator against the wall there’s a nicer store that sells miscellaneous beading items including magnetic clasps for 2.5 RMB each.
8RMB=about $1 USD.

I find Beijing to be less expensive for jewelry than Shanghai. Note that a vendor in Shanghai's HongQiao Pearl City (corner HongMeiLu and YanAn Lu) told me that tour operators take 45% of the gross sales price. You know this is happening if you pay the cashier instead of the booth directly.
nagiffag is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 04:31 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 34
Thank you so much for the very detailed replies! You are wonderful to take the time. I have one question though -- Don't the shopkeepers object when you take out your scissors to test the merchandise? Is it easy to do it without being noticed?
mistyal is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 05:26 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 142
They scratch the pearls for and you should see some "pearl dust" come off. It's a normal way here to prove pearls are real. I'm sure they'd let you do it if you wanted to.
nagiffag is offline  
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