The concept of worry beads existed as far back as ancient Greece and, while still used for prayer, they have also become a simple means to calm the mind. For those seeking spiritual or meditative focus, or merely a place for twitching hands (and hearts) to rest, there’s a lot to be said right now for having something comforting to hold. And beads are pinging up all over the place, from the spring/summer catwalks – at Dior and Isabel Marant – to fine- and high-jewellery collections, where they are finding a new resonance.
“For me, beads have always been emotionally charged,” says Florentine fine jeweller Carolina Bucci, whose Forte Beads collection was inspired by her sons’ childhood summers. “We had big bowls of brightly coloured plastic beads, and they made wristbands that they wore from the first day of summer to the last. They became a joyful symbol of our family life – both precious and fun – and I wanted to translate that spirit into fine jewellery.”
Although playing with their forms is “innately relaxing”, the therapeutic quality of the resulting bracelets and necklaces, which can be personalised with countless combinations of semiprecious and hardstones, wasn’t planned. And right now, their tactile nature is hard to resist. The weightiness, the cooling touch and the smooth or granular feel of the stones – the golden inclusions in lapis, for instance, have a distinct texture – are soothing and grounding. For London-based Bucci, whose family are in coronavirus-ravaged Italy, it’s also personal – and 25 per cent of the proceeds from online sales are being donated to the Careggi Hospital in Florence.