Fragrant beads

When I was a child, my grandmother had some reddish beads that
looked carved. They also had an odar and for some reason, I latter
decided that they were cinnabar. I recently looked up cinnabar and
saw nothing there that seemed to relate. This would have been in the
late 40’s and I have no idea how long she might have had them. I
doubt that they could have been costly. Would anyone have an idea of
what they could have been?



Did the beads have an odor at all times or only when they where
warmed up such as in your hand or under warm water? Do you recall
what the smell was? If they had a smell at all times it may very well
have been due to your grandmother applying perfume but if they had a
smell when they became warm then they may have been Celluloid ( smell
of camphor - thinks Vick’s Vapo rub), Galalith ( smell of wet wool ),
Bakelite ( carbolic acid - think formaldehyde ) or Lucite ( this had
a smell similar to flowers but it needed to be very hot such as with
a hot pin or extremely hot water )

I hope that sparks a memory.
Greg DeMark

Probably rudraksha seed beads. They’re usually about 3/4" across and
are either brown or reddish brown and look like brainy corrugation.
I know they’re still available but I’m not sure where off the top of
my head. Google.


Marilyn, My Grandmother Rose Dalton also had some red scented beads,
they were rose beads made from a pastile of roses, the scent can last
of decades if made and cared for properly, here is site with more



Beads made of dried, pressed ( molded) rose petals were popular in
the Victorian era, but date back to pre-Christian era Greece, e.g.
Used for prayer beads throughout the Middle East/Mediterranean, it is
believed that 3rd cent. Christian monks in the region adopted the use
of rose petal beads for…rosaries ( actually derived from the word
"rosarium", meaning “rose garden”). Rose beads have been used in
secular jewelry as well, of course, particularly in the Elizabethan
and Victorian periods, and are still made today, often, again, for
rosaries. They can be surprisingly hard and durable, as long as
reasonable care is taken and they don’t get wet.

margery epstein

If the beads had a fragrance, I’m betting they were “rose beads”.
Rose beads are made from rose petals. OUAT, I had a recipe for making
rose beads, but I can’t find it now (of course). The recipe came from
a book on a subject like Victorian crafts. Check your library for
books on crafts, especially books about antique crafts and books
published in the early part of the 1900’s. Somebody should have a
recipe for rose beads.

Good luck and happy hunting!
Barbara Baugh

I remember some beads like you described and they were supposed to
be made of pressed rose petals.


Probably rudraksha seed beads. 

I did a search on E-bay for rudraksha beads, having never heard of
them. This is the info on one auction…lol…

5 Mukhi Rudraksha is the form of Rudra named Kaalagni. The wealth, in
the form of learning that man gains in the world, should be apparent
and permanent, only then it is meaningful. 5 Faced Rudraksha

is useful for this purpose. In the long run we lose our power to
maintain the learning that we have gained and at last it vanishes.
Agni (fire) purifies the metals and similarly 5 Faced Rudraksha
rectifies all the vices and faults of Jeeva and makes him pure, and
Jeeva gains the form of Pashupati i.e. the Lord of all Creatures,
after becoming free from the animal instincts. By wearing its mala
the wearer’s mind remains peaceful. There is no suspicion about the

fact that the wearer of 5 Faced Rudraksha mala never gets untimely


I want to know why “Jeeva” wasn’t pure before? I definitely like the
idea for never getting “untimely death”. I will also agree whole
heartedly with the “use it or lose it” theory of learning. Plus, I
really could use a peaceful mind…couldn’t we all?

They also say that these beads are recommended for: Bone marrow,
liver, kidney, feet, thigh, ear, diseases of fat and diabetes

Doctors schmocktors…I am going to go and bid on some beads! Yeah!

Beyond the very interesting introduction, I did go and look at the
beads. They are a type of 5 lobed seed, that are used as red beads.
Very rough looking. Can’t imagine Grandma wearing them. Apparently,
they are a type of rosary. I looked further, and found that…voila!
They are said to have a wonderful smell.


Lisa, (suddenly, everyone and their brother wants to go to Santa Fe
with me. I will have to slink away in the dead of night…) Topanga,

When I was a child a elderly neighbor who was a devout Catholic had
a rosary which she said was made from rose petals. She explained the
she had used rose petals, all crushed into a ball, and before the
balls dried out she had pierced each one with a hole so that they
could be strung. She said that she was using the method she had been
taught by her grandmother when they lived in the “the old country.” I
think my neighbor was Lithuanian, but I am not sure. She said that
girls in her village always made their own rosaries from rose petals.

I remember that they had a musty odor., were dark brownish in color.
Could the fragrant beads Marilyn is referring to be beads made from
crushed rose petals?

Alma Rands

I recall them as being spheres and having a geometric type design.
I’m sure that they did not look like flowers. I have wondered if they
could have been some sort of wood?



My grandmother told me that when she was a girl they somehow pressed
rose petals into little round balls and made beads of them. I have
seen necklaces made of these beads (very old). Actually it was fairly
common when I was a girl to see rosaries made of “rose” beads - and
some of them were carved, so the bead got very hard. Sorry, I don’t
know the process for making them but it had to be something fairly
simple with common ingredients. The beads smelled faintly of roses.
Hopefully someone will have better

Thanks for asking the question - it brought up some nice memories.



rose petals without any white, rose absolute and gum tragacanth will
give you what you need. pierce it with a hot bodkin or large needle
and use waxed linen cord to string them to dry on in a very dry but
not hot spot. Heat will drive off the absolute or at least the
essential oil if absolute is too pricey for your wallet.

gum tragacanth can be had at wine making shops and rose absolutes at
some health food storess ( aura cacia brand is a readily available
brand, but there are better ones from europe and under flavors, or
flavorists supplies on the web 9 flavorists are actually perfumers).
If you do opt for the flavorists sites adn order on line or via the
tele, hem you are not interested int he NI absolutes 9nature
identical) you require the pure form, or an essential oil if they
can’t supply it. R. E. Rourke write if you need proportions

From the description you give, I think they are probably rose beads.
Those were very popular in the 1800’s through the early 1900’s and
are made with actual rose blossoms as their base. You could try
sanding one bead (in an inconspicuous place) and seeing if the scent
becomes stronger so that you can identify the materials used.

BBR - Sandi Graves, Beadin’ Up A Storm
Stormcloud Trading Co

I googled and found this for making rose petal beads, or
any other flower petals apparently can be used. Obviously the process
for achieving this has been updated.


frankincense beads would smell oddly spicy, rose anywhwere from
roses to musty, possibly wood soaked in essential oils as well

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry

I have wondered if they could have been some sort of wood? 

I was introduced to olive wood when I was going to art school in
Nice, France many years ago. To this day, I love that smell.
However, the wood is not red, and I don’t remember seeing beads made
from it, but I do remember bracelets. The bark of Ponderosa Pines,
smells like vanilla, but I can’t see anything being made from it.

Lisa, (off for a meeting for commission work in the hot hot valley),
Topanga, CA USA

Years ago when someone passed on,They had beads made from the roses
into rosaries or a necklace—(Have made them many years ago) Mostly
made by Nuns. But you said they looked carved. Do they have a rose
scent at all? It’s amazing how these last’

I had a recipe for making rose beads, but I can't find it now (of
course). The recipe 

I’d never heard of rose beads - out of curiosity I Googled and
immediately many versions came up. Somebody mentions their
grandmother has 50 year old beads that are still hard and still
fragrant. Somebody else suggests boosting it with rose oil on your
fingers when you roll them, if necessary. Of course, old world roses
are going to give you the best scent, if you have them…BTW, we
have around 85 roses, at last count…Neat idea!

Sorry, you gave me a lot of choices but none of them rang the bell.
It has been so long ago that I have no idea what the smell was like.
It was not a strong sent. It defiantly was not of camphor, wet wool,
formaldehyde. I don’t know about the Lucite but think not. The beads
were in a container with other things. She did not wear them nor do
I remember her wearing perfume.


Probably rudraksha seed beads. They're usually about 3/4" across
and are either brown or reddish brown and look like brainy

The color and size sound right. I think it was a deliberate design
though, not what you describe.