French cross beads are Venetian-made glass trade beads that come from Africa. Venice bead makers began making these beautiful beads in the late 19th century, and Africans quickly began using them for trade. Beginning in the 20th century, bead enthusiasts and traders began exporting them from Africa, to the United States, England, and Europe.
There are two types of French cross beads: yellow and white. The yellow trade beads are often more accessible, while the white are a bit more rare and hard to find. The beads measure anywhere from 5mm – 7mm in width, and 10mm – 12mm in length. These beautiful glass beads are usually sold by the strand. Prices fluctuate, as the supply is not steady. A strand can run anywhere from $35 USD to $150 USD depending on the age and quality. Obviously older strands tend to be on the more expensive side. They are often also a bit worn out, but this is something true trade bead collectors cherish.
From our experience, french cross beads are not always easy to come by. If you your local african bead supplier has them in stock at a reasonable price, and you want a strand, we urge you to purchase it. Many analysts predict that these beads may be sold out in the near future. Production may continue, but you will not be able to find an old strand of these trade beads, with a rich history as easily.