About Viana's Bead Jewel

Viana's Beads are the oldest jewel in Portuguese history. A true classic, with small balls ornamented with filigree designs that give rise to eternal jewels that pass from generation to generation.

Neckalce Viana's Bead Alma e Coração


The Viana’s Beads History

Did you know that beads are the oldest piece of jewelry? Primitive civilizations used stones and pearls to make necklaces. Later with the discovery of metal, they were produced in a spherical and massive format. And the oldest solid gold bead found in Portuguese territory dates from the 3rd-millennium b.c. and was discovered in the Sintra area.

But the Viana's Beads, as we know them and which last until today, descended from the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, and Etruscans, and the latter being the ones most similar to ours.

Viana's beads, hollow and light, were more economical and, therefore, became the main jewel of Portuguese popular gold. Before acquiring the much desired long-chain cord, the beads were purchased, one by one, by the young women, with the few savings they could get from work.

They were putting the beads together in a typical wool thread, adjustable and ending at the back with a pompom. The number of beads on the necklace was thus variable and as a rule they only went up to the middle of the neck. It was also curious that this necklace would never be worn without a medal that could be, other equally popular jewels such as a butterfly, a cross of “canovão” or a custody.

A stylized version of an old Viana’s Beads Necklace.

The Viana’s Beads Design

The spherical shape, hollow and very light, was what most characterized this type of beads over time. What varied was the way the beads were adorned using techniques such as filigree, granulation or sprinkling.

Thus, there were several types of Beads:

  • ­    Viana's Beads were the most common and still be the most used today. It is characterized by the application on the beads of several filigree circles with a granite in the center.

Reference: Traditional Jewellery Museum of Viana do Castelo – Viana’s Beads

  • ­    Pipo Beads, oval and with spring-shaped ribs

References: Traditional Jewellery Museum of Viana do Castelo – Viana’s Beads

  • ­    The Brazilian Beads, whose name derives from the great demand for our Brazilian emigration in the 1920s.

References: Traditional Jewellery Museum of Viana do Castelo – Viana’s Beads.