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Original Message:   Affordable beauty
One of the things I love about beads is that there are millions of very beautiful examples that just about anyone can afford. Sure, at any given time there are small segments of the market where fashion rules. Zi is one of them right now, driven - in part, at least - by the Chinese plutocracy's mystification of everything it is in the process of wiping out in Tibet. But prices don't always keep on increasing. With zi perhaps they will, at least for as long as it is still thought to be possible to distinguish fakes from authentic beads, but the history of art markets is full of bubbles that have collapsed.

For the most part, bead prices seem to have remained on average quite stable. If you compare the prices that Robert Liu gives in his book Collectible Beads there's generally not a whole lot of difference between then and now. And perhaps, looking at the demographics of the market, prices may actually drop in the next ten or fifteen years.

All taste is a mix of socially informed convention and deeply personal drives. The two bead types that personally I find the most beautiful, Phoenicians and Kiffa, still offer examples that I can buy for the price of a good, or sometimes a mediocre, dinner. It amazes me that that is the case, because these beads, which are quite rare and fragile, give me pleasure for much longer.

Everybody on this forum has different tastes. I would never even have discovered Phoenicians or Kiffa without Thomas and Gabriel, and I'm grateful to them for getting me hooked. But if there's one collector here who inspires me it's Finfan, who lives - he tells us - on a quite limited budget and still manages every year to buy a lot of beautiful and interesting beads.

Cheers,

Will

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