Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

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Comment by Charlotte Dakin-Norris on May 26, 2019 at 19:22

Dear Julie, I am so sorry that I have not replied sooner! It has been a few months since I last logged in! The pamphlet is now available online. If you cannot fine it then I can send you a pdf. Please let me know if you are still interested!

Comment by Julie Herzog on November 6, 2018 at 23:30

Hi Charlotte,

I am new here from Upstate NY USA, and am very interested in scented beads.  I work with herbs and scented botanicals, essential oils etc. and I have been trying to locate a copy of the book "Scented Magic Beads in Africa" by Marie-Jose Opper  with no success. I know it has been a while si cue this thread was commented on, but I would very much appreciate getting a peek at some of the actual authentic recipes if you wouldn't mind.  I would love to try and create some scented beads, even if I end up substituting for some of the more expensive ingredients!  Thank you so much, I would be grateful for any help you can provide.

Warmest Regards,


Comment by Charlotte Dakin-Norris on February 3, 2016 at 10:16

A kind librarian at the Smithsonian library has scanned me a copy of "Scented Magic Beads in Africa" by Marie Jose Opper. It has several recipes for scented beads, from Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali & Senegal. The urban Tunisian paste would be extremely expensive to make!

Hopefully the book will be made available to view online soon, but if anyone is interested to read my .pdf copy, then please contact me.

Comment by Charlotte Dakin-Norris on January 26, 2016 at 15:27

Thank you - that is wonderful and very kind of you! Now I will begin to dust off my schoolgirl French.

And Patricia - thank you for the links...DidoTresors have a few pieces in stock; some in red paste as well as the black. I may well invest in a new piece to have an idea of the scent that I am aiming for!

Best wishes,


Comment by Leonor Arnó on January 26, 2016 at 15:18

Hi Charlotte, here is the scanned pages of scented beads!

Comment by Patricia Deany on January 26, 2016 at 13:59

These are some of my favorite beads and I have been most fortunate to find quite a few both online and  in Tunisia.  They are still being made in Tunisia . My friend and I were fortunate to sit for a while in a store of a gentleman who was selling single , freshly made beads and it was like being in heaven. They are still being used in Tunisian jewelry specifically Djerban bridal necklaces and temporals. I believe that necklaces like the one above were made for the tourist trade in Tunisia, at least that is what I have been told. I too have a recipe for scented beads but have been too lazy to actually try it. Maybe I will now I am including a little essay from a website about the different kinds of scented jewelry found in North Africa. There is a shop on etsy called DidoTresors which actually sells some fresh beads, It sells ethnic Tunisian jewelry, modern, which includes some of the beads. It may be fun to get in touch with the shop owner if you are curious about how the beads are made, she may know.

Comment by Charlotte Dakin-Norris on January 26, 2016 at 11:14

Thank you - I have already read your excellent post! It gave me a great place to start with experimenting making my own beads and I tried to blend some of the ingredients that you mentioned. The difficulty is getting the proportions of everything right, and I'm not there yet! My first attempt was too grainy (I ground and sieved the nard) and dried too quickly, and my second (with pre-powdered nard) had a better texture but is still wet 6 months on! I used chunks of benzoin which I also had to grind, and then had to heat them up with the other ingredients in to get it into a moldable state. The problem with the heating is that it can affect the fragrance adversely. More experimentation required!

As some of the ingredients are expensive I thought I'd wait until after my trip to Morocco with Sarah as I may be able to source some of the materials there.

And thank you for the info regarding the book...I will try to find a copy! But in the meantime I'd be very grateful if you could scan the pages for me.

Best wishes,


Comment by Leonor Arnó on January 26, 2016 at 6:25

I also love these kind of necklaces too, in fact I wrote a short post on my webpage about it:

There's good information about the ingredients in the book "Bijoux & Parures d'Algérie", Somogy Editions d'art.  If you can't find the book I can scan these pages for you if you want (it's in french!)

Comment by Charlotte Dakin-Norris on January 15, 2015 at 14:29

This is a recent purchase...I have been looking for a scented skhab necklace for ages and I missed out on a far better example on Etsy a couple of months back. I presume that it is Turkish as there is a star and crescent moon on the crescent bead. A shame that the main pendant is missing. It no longer smells though.

I have also done a bit of research on the ingredients and would love to experiment making some skhab beads. I have a list of possible ingredients but I haven't found a proper recipe yet, and there seems to be quite a variety of ingredients depending on the region. Does anyone on the forum have a full recipe that they wouldn't mind sharing with me? I have found a YouTube clip showing an Algerian lady making some beads, and a colleague translated what she was saying, but the ingredients didn't really match up with the I am puzzled.

I was also wondering if anyone have access to copy of Scented Magic Beads in Africa by Marie Jose Opper?



Created by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 10, 2017 at 4:03pm. Last updated by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 17, 2017.


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